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Biographical entry Kulkarni, Revaneppa Tirkappa (1937 - 2013)

MB BS Bombay 1961; FRCS Edin 1969; FRCS 1971.

6 March 1937
Savanur, Mysore State, India
22 October 2013
Gadag-Betageri, Karnataka, India
General surgeon


Revanappa Tirkappa Kulkarni was a surgeon in Gadag-Betageri, Karnataka, India. He was born in Savanur, in Dharwar district, Mysore State, on 6 March 1937, one of 14 children of Tirkappa Ningappa Kulkarni, the town clerk and a landlord, and Nilgangawa Kulkarni née Godhi. Only six children survived in the family. He was educated at Majid High School, Savanur, and won an open merit scholarship to Karnatak College, Dharwar, where he was first in the premedical intermediate science examination. He then joined Grant Medical College in Bombay, where he won another scholarship.

After qualifying MB BS in 1961, he worked at the National Hospital in Mahim, Bombay, under several reputed surgeons, including M H Keswani, a plastic surgeon.

He then went to the UK for postgraduate studies and worked for 11 years at various hospitals, including Maidenhead General, Bradford Royal Infirmary, Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital, and at Walsgrave, where he was particularly influenced by Roger Abbey Smith, a cardiothoracic surgeon. He was also a GP for two years in Lincoln. Whilst in England he secured his fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and of England.

In 1970 he married a British nurse, Dorothy Anne Mardel, and in 1973 they settled in Gadag-Betageri, a small town in southern India, and built their own 20-bed hospital. Life was not without its ups and downs. This was before disposable hospital equipment, and blood transfusion was in its infancy in Gadag. An anesthetist was not always available and many operations were carried out using ether. Power cuts were a regular feature, as were water shortages. Kulkarni performed thousands of operations, from the rare to the commonplace, including hare-lip and cleft palate surgery, gastrojeujunostomy, thyroidectomy, tonsillectomy and appendectomy.

He gave many papers to conferences organised by the Karnataka State Chapter of the Association of Surgeons of India (KSCASI), including on repair of a torn axillobrachial artery using basilic vein graft and Meckel's diverticulum. He was chair of KSCASI in 1991 and in 2004 had the honour of delivering the prestigious Dr H S Bhat Oration at the KSCASI conference.

He also gave several popular radio talks and published articles in several leading newspapers on health issues, including heart disease in pregnant women, respiratory diseases in industrial workers, dog bites and rabies, vasectomy, sex education, sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, safe disposal of human waste, blood transfusion and blood donation.

Outside medicine, he was involved in several social work and community projects. He was chairman of the Tontadarya College of Engineering in Gadag and of the Kalyan Kendra Jatra committee (which manages the local annual fair at the Hindu temple). With the help of Rotarians in Gadag-Betageri and the UK and Rotary International, he helped fund a residential college of music for the blind in Gadag, established a modern well-equipped eye care centre and improved the infrastructure in 30 local schools, establishing sanitary facilities and water supplies, and providing equipment, including desks. Among the many honours he received, he was presented with Rotary's Service Above Self award.

Revanappa Tirkappa Kulkarni died on 22 October 2013 in Gadag-Betageri, aged 76. He was survived by his wife and two sons.

Anne Kulkarni

The Royal College of Surgeons of England