Kalam, Hyderabad cardiologist pioneered a low cost-heart stent

Hyderabad - Nearly 30,000 people have benefited from the project.

By P S Jayaram

Published: Fri 31 Jul 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 31 Jul 2015, 8:24 PM

For 'People's President' Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, whose mortal remains were laid to rest in his native island town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu on Thursday, Hyderabad always had a special place in his heart, a city he always wanted to return to as often as he could after demitting office in 2007.
It was in Hyderabad that the 'Missile Man of India' spent most of his eventful professional life, spearheading the country's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) as Director of the Defence Research and Development Laboratories (DRDL). It was in this city that he unveiled a vision for transferring the spin-off benefits of defence research to the civilian sector, particularly in the area of public health.
Kalam was leader of the team that launched India's first major space mission, the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3), on July 18, 1980 from Sriharikota. The success of this mission catapulted Kalam into national limelight and he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1981.
At this stage, he came up with proposals to utilise the SLV launch capability to develop missiles. He was then shifted from ISRO to DRDO. Initially, he was made the director of the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) in Hyderabad in February 1982. This was a turning point in his career as Kalam went on to take a series of initiatives that led to the development of guided missiles. Kalam's vision was to see that the technologies and special materials, developed as part of the missile technology, are made available for civilian applications.
As part of implementing this vision, he collaborated with medical scientists and technologists. One of the products of this unique collaboration was the "Raju-Kalam stent" developed by Kalam and Dr B Soma Raju of Care hospital in Hyderabad.
The other product was the Light Calliper Project for the benefit of polio patients. "It all began when Dr Kalam was the director of DRDL and his attention was drawn to the need for light callipers for polio-affected people," recalled director of Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) Dr Narendranath who had collaborated with Kalam on the project.
Nearly 30,000 people have benefited from the project. In association with medical researchers, Kalam launched the Society for Biomedical Technology (SBMT) to develop spin-off biomedical devices adapted from missile technology.
In 1998, Kalam and Dr Soma Raju developed a low-cost coronary stent named the 'Kalam-Raju' stent. Later in 2012, they designed a tablet computer for healthcare in rural areas, which was named the 'Kalam-Raju tablet.'
"I had a very close association with him for over a decade. He has inspired millions of individuals and during my stint with him, I saw him not only as a great working colleague but also a great friend. His death is a huge loss to the nation," Dr Soma Raju said.

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