Heart on the palm

Autor of text: 

Yuri Pya is Doctor of Medical Science, internationally recognized heart surgeon, freelance heart surgeon in chief of the Ministry of Public Health RK, chairman of board in the JSC “The National Scientific Cardiac Surgery Center”.

Cardiovascular diseases stand first in the sad statistics almost of all the countries in the world. But Kazakhstani cardiac surgery is developing today by leaps and bounds, and we spoke about it with the graduate of the 2nd Moscow State Medical Institute named after Pirogov, Yuri Pya, who is in charge of the Kazakhstani cardiac surgery at the moment.

Interviewer: Yuri Vladimirovich, what is the status of the Kazakhstani cardiac surgery today?

Yuri Pya: If we take a realistic look at the global situation, we do understand that our public health care considerably lags behind this of European states, not to mention US. But I wouldn’t like to compare one to the other, I would simply like to mention our cardiac surgery center as an example. It is equipped with rather up-to-date technologies. I think that here we have every opportunity to put into practice everything that the global cardiac surgery has today, and moreover, to create something new. I see that we – me and my team – are within the power of doing it.


I: Now, a few words about your team…

Y.P.: In our cardiac surgery center there is a team of young experts. I’d like to repeat again that in this hospital it is possible to do everything. Each step made in the global cardiac surgery will be made here. Because now we are of the same category of clinics that take part in international multipurpose researches, and not in medications only, which are first tested and then applied, but namely researches in methodologies, equipments, new technologies in treatment. And all this owing to the staff that works here. We associate on equal terms with specialists from any global clinics. Everyone has equal launch opportunities. We are learning all together, and this aspect is very important. 

I: Yuri Vladimirovich, why did you choose just this occupation? What was the reason for it?

Y.P.:  I think my reason is very prosaic. I am an ordinary person like others, but deeply convinced – now, from the point of view of my occupation – that virtually all people initially have equal opportunities. That is to say, God created all of us similar at the start, but everyone breasts the tape differently. And a few more important things – the way you bring yourself up in your life, and what kind of surroundings will influence you.


I: Did your surroundings influence your choice, too?

Y.P.:  Well, I was an ordinary student at school. After school I became an ordinary man of Soviet period. So to say, I had to finish school, take my qualifications, enroll in a higher education establishment, and live further on up to these or those resolutions of this or that party congress. That was a standard, and I wasn’t of any exception: I left school, entered the institute… But initially I wanted to become a physics engineer or electronics engineer. However, they got the measure of me just on time and didn’t grant me admission there, though I tried to be enrolled there twice. My parents also played their role in this, of course. As a result, I filed the documents with the medical institute and entered it.


I: What do you have to do during the day?

Y.P.:  I learnt not to divide my time into day or night. I just have these 24 hours, from which I must set aside enough time for sleeping, operations, eating, speaking to people and helping somebody. When it is going to happen – at two or four a.m., I never know. I must be a happy person, because I am engaged in the labour of love. My whole life is in there, and I attract to it my colleagues and my family 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. And the most important thing is that feeling of being wanted by people. Being of use to them. I think one cannot be successful without this.


I: How many years are you in your occupation already?

Y.P.:  More than 30 years. You know, when time flows and you look back, you sometimes want to embellish your lifeline. Actually, it was similar to those of many other boys and girls of my generation. It’s a different matter that I was lucky in life to have good teachers. As I have analytical thinking, I loved maths and physics and did a lot of designs. I was always interested in something precise, something that you can palpate and see. When I entered the medical institute, I understood that I liked it and that it was what I would do. It was my cup of tea. Sure, I specialized in surgery. Because surgery is the area where you must apply both your brain and your hands.


I: What is the most complicated thing in your work?

Y.P.:  The most complicated thing is to stay at the same level of relationships between your colleagues and patients, whether you are successful or not. To find this balance is the most difficult thing, I suppose.


I: And the most important one?

Y.P.:  The most important thing is not to be satisfied with yourself. Because only when you are unsatisfied, you have something to strive for in future.


I: You’ve practiced a lot. What cases in your practice were the most important, the heaviest, and maybe absolutely mystical for you?

Y.P.:  The sheer fact that there are people you may help to survive is probably my essential impetus and motivation. Because if you are able to help somebody, you just do it – and that’s all. You don’t have to analyze it. As for cases… I remember most of all those cases when I didn’t help but did harm. Unintended, of course. Somewhere at the start of my career, at the beginning of my practice I was being ruled by somewhat different principles, I had sort of childish maximalism, even morbid ambitions, and people suffered because of all this. For instance, to conduct this or that operation in a different way or faster than others…


I: And what have you arrived at now?

Y.P.: I haven’t arrived yet, I’m still on my way. And I think that I’ve already made and I’m still going to make more mistakes. But today my key principle is to reduce them, may it be possible. And after all, I’m only a human, and that means I won’t make any mistakes only when I quit this job, though I can’t imagine myself without the cardiac surgery. However, each day I ask myself one and the same question: would I do the thing that I do at the moment better, if I could come back to it? This is the issue o f all issues, which makes me be a swell all the time and move on. Because just the moment you start liking yourself, that’s the end.


P.S. Today Kazakhstani heart surgeons are ready to conduct operations of the highest degree of complexity. Annually intra muros of the capital’s cardiac surgery center around 2500 open heart surgeries are conducted, including 500 ones on kids. Following the artificial heart transplantation, native specialists have very recently carried out the transplant of the living heart from one person to another, and with this event Kazakhstan joined those 22 countries that conduct such hi-tech operations.

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