“Dr Sommai Tongprasert MD: The Miracle Doctor Who Triumphed Over Cancer”
Upon leaving the Police Hospital, I went straight back home to Singburi immediately. There I would be able to work towards my goals, as well as take care of my mother. Singburi Hospital at that time was a great deal different than what you can see today, as it had not even been officially opened.
Singburi Hospital formally opened on 24 June 1955. However, before it was officially opened, we had already started working on the patients, even though we were still short pieces of equipment. The lack of proper equipment gave me plenty of suspense and exciting experiences helping patients’ lives, as if we were racing with their heartbeats.
Operation in the Field
Early one afternoon, a police sergeant from Singburi was stabbed between the ribs on his left side. The damage extended to his stomach, resulting in internal bleeding. A group of policemen brought him to me around five o’clock in the afternoon. I checked his condition and decided that the patient would die from blood loss if we were to wait much longer. Taking him to Anant Hospital in the Lopburi Province was not feasible due to the distance and the road being in a poor condition (impassable by car).
I told the patient that we needed to take a risk by operating — he would have about a 50% chance of survival. When the patient and his family agreed, I:
- ordered workers to buy some wood and make a long table (for operating) about waist high and a bed for the patient (45 cm high and one meter wide with headboards on both sides);
- went to the province’s health center to borrow chloroform (used as an anesthetic in the past);
- bought some fabric (flannel) and had it cut into a rectangular shape to cover the patient’s stomach during the operation;
- then ordered workers to cut the top end of some bamboo to use as a pole for the IV;
- bought some moonshine to substitute for alcohol (for cleaning), also;
- iodine to rub on the stomach area.
- Lastly, I bought some thin sewing thread for stitch up the intestines and the wound (because we did not have special surgical thread).
- By chance, I had a set of tools for neutering males and a rubber hose (to suck out the water in the patient’s stomach).
I had started the operation at eight o’clock that night and finished around nine.
I had neither my own assistants nor a nurse to help out at the hospital and had to get some workers as substitutes for an anesthesiologist to help me get the patient unconscious first by using the chloroform. I asked the police nurse to help during the operation. We lit the general area with some hurricane lamps and pointed flashlights beams at the patient’s stomach while operating.
Because the building was only a simple wooden structure in the middle of a rice field without any proper equipment, when insects flew into the wound, we just picked them out with our fingers and threw them away.
As a result of this operation, the patient recovered and I became well-known all over Singburi and nearby provinces such as Lopburi, Chainat and Angthong.
One Sunday morning, at about nine o’clock, I received a call from the Chief of Yang-Manee Watergate (which was next to Pho Thong District, Angthong Province). His wife was in labor and had problems delivering and the midwife had already given up. He asked me to help and was sending a boat to pick me up at Bang Rachan District.
By that time, Singburi Hospital had already opened. I agreed and told him to prepare a wooden table for operating and another small table to put the equipment on. Then I prepared my equipment and brought along our operating sheets. I took two nurses (one for anestheesia and one to assist during the operation). We each rode a bicycle and tied our equipment to the bikes.
We traveled along the unpaved road until we got to Bang Rachan District (about 10 km) and took the boat (that was sent for us) to Yang-Manee Watergate. After inspecting the patient, I found that her water already broke two days before hand. If we delayed any further, bother mother and child would have perished. Therefore, we hurried on with the Caesarian and saved both patients. During the operation, we had no electric fan and improvised by having people stand around to manually wave the fans to relieve the heat and chase away the flies.
These two incidents were very difficult to face at that time. My helpers and I were very proud of the outcomes. I believe that physicians nowadays do not have these types of experiences similar to mine.