Dr Bhanu farewells NQ after decade of surgical care for our tiniest patients
Published: 30 August 2023
Beloved paediatric surgeon Dr Bhanu Rathnamma has farewelled Townsville University Hospital after almost a decade of putting smiles back on children’s faces.
Dr Rathnamma, whose passion for paediatrics was sparked when he was intern in his home country of India, said the best thing about children was that they recovered quickly if the right thing was done for them in time.
“When it comes to kids, as soon as the problem is sorted, they’re back on their feet again with smiles on their faces,” he said.
“I was drawn to that and then, when I did a general surgery rotation, I fell in love with surgery.
“So, I combined the two to become a paediatric surgeon and have never looked back.
“The smile on a child’s face and the gratitude of the parents once their child is fully recovered is very rewarding and always touches my heart.”
Last year, Dr Rathnamma repaired a diaphragmatic eventration, a rare condition that causes compression of the lungs and alters the positioning of other organs in the chest, including the heart, on two-week-old Bowen baby Madison Manners.
Performing thoracoscopic surgery, a keyhole surgery rarely done outside Brisbane, Dr Rathnamma spared Madison from having her chest cavity opened and a longer, more painful recovery.
Madison’s mum Jane said Madison, now 18 months old, was doing ‘really well’.
“Dr Rathnamma was such an amazing surgeon and person and all his support and guidance during that really difficult time meant the world to us,” Jane said.
Dr Rathnamma said it was a ‘great joy’ coming to work every day at Townsville University Hospital.
“You walk into any of the areas that treat children, and the staff are so collegial and determined to do their best,” he said.
“That is special, and it had motivated me to do my best and, more importantly, enjoy my work.
“I’d like to thank my current surgical colleagues Harry, Dan, and Janani and former colleague Edward Shi; we are not just colleagues, we are really good friends who helped each other through thick and thin.
“I would also like to thank all the nurses, allied health teams, my colleagues in paediatrics, PICU, NICU, anaesthetics, radiology, and emergency, and the registrars and residents; working here has been a wonderful journey in my life.”
Townsville University Hospital women’s and children’s medical director Dr Jason Yates said Dr Rathnamma had been a tremendous asset to the HHS over the past nine years.
“Dr Rathnamma has brought a unique skill set to the health service specialising in laparoscopic technique which has decreased the post-operative length-of-stay for children,” Jason said.
“He was a cornerstone of our tertiary paediatric care in North Queensland, and he had the most amazing relationships and rapport with his patients and their families.
“We will miss his gentlemanly smile and we all wish him the very best in his new career.”
Dr Rathnamma will take up a position at the Royal Adelaide Children’s Hospital.