Specializing in Nephrology (Kidney medicine)
Dr. Sira graduated with honors from the Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, before continuing his specialty studies in Nephrology at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and Emory University Hospital in the USA. He joined Bumrungrad in 2001.
What is your most memorable medical-related experience?
Two come to mind. About 10 years ago I was taking care of a terminal-stage cancer patient in his 70s. He desperately wanted to go home to see his grandchildren. We took him there by ambulance with the nurse. I had to keep pressing his handheld ventilator the whole time. His young grandchildren gathered around him, but because there was no medical equipment we could only stay for 15 minutes. The little ones cried when we left, but the visit delighted the patient and at that moment I realized how impactful being a doctor can be.
The second was during the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. Rescue authorities delivered many patients to Bumrungrad. Some large families of 10 or so people ended up with only one surviving member; it was such a tragedy. However, the hospital staff’s cooperative attitude impressed me as all departments mobilized to provide patients with excellent care. That made a vivid impression that has stayed with me even to this day.
What is it like working at Bumrungrad?
Bumrungrad is a hospital of high capability and readiness, thanks to the skill and dedication of my colleagues. Working with talented doctors in many fields has increased my knowledge.
Additionally, Bumrungrad offers an opportunity to use new technologies for treating patients and encourages physicians to conduct medical research. I do original research on toxic substances in Thailand, which has helped us discover that there are high levels of toxins in Thai patients. This research will be published soon, and our hope is that discovering the cause may help increase treatment options
What is your work philosophy?
Enjoy what you do and don’t get stressed; life is too short. And, you must always listen to your conscience – that sense of shame and fear of doing something immoral. This fundamental principle enables us to live peacefully within society.
Specializing in Pediatric Nephrology
After graduating from the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Assist. Prof. Dr. Phanida studied in the USA and the UK for 11 years before returning to teach at Siriraj Hospital. Having passed the exams for both the American Board of Pediatrics and Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom, Dr. Phanida received diplomas in Pediatrics from both institutes and she is currently the head of the Children’s Center at Bumrungrad International Hospital.
Why did you choose to join Bumrungrad?
I have worked with Bumrungrad for more than 10 years. I decided to join because I found the work challenging. Bumrungrad has many foreign patients and some of them come with highly complicated medical conditions. Therefore, it’s an excellent opportunity to put into practice experiences from my studies abroad.
What sparked your interest in Pediatrics?
Following and observing children’s development from birth to adulthood is very rewarding for me. The doctor-patient dynamic does not end at diagnosis and treatment but rather develops into a long relationship. I have many pediatric patients that I have taken care of from birth through graduation, marriage, and having children of their own. They even bring their children to be under my care. Some study abroad and when they’ve gotten sick, they call me long distance for consultation. Many of my patients just stop by to ask how I’m doing. It’s such a delight that they still think of me.
What principle guides your work?
Patients are not customers to be exploited. Taking care of children must also emphasize including parents in the process. I must be sincere with them, tell them the truth, the pros and cons of treatment. Through our sincerity we earn their recognition and trust, which leads to successful treatments.
Specializing in Endocrinology (Diabetes), and Metabolism
Assist. Prof. Dr. Varaphon, head of the Endocrinology Unit, Bumrungrad International Hospital, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University. He studied endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine before returning to become a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University. Although a full-time doctor at Bumrungrad since 2005, Dr. Varaphon still finds time to be a special instructor.
What does an endocrinologist do?
Treating diabetes takes up 60 percent of my practice. Thyroid conditions take up 20 percent, and the remainder concerns patients with pituitary and adrenal gland problems such as altitude sickness, obesity, osteopenia, and osteoporosis. Most are chronic patients who need comprehensive and ongoing care. My elderly patients, some of whom are in their 90s, often face multiple conditions with interrelated complications. For example, patients with diabetes commonly exhibit obesity, hypertension or hyperlipidemia, while others have hidden heart or brain diseases, which we find only after compiling the complete clinical information and diagnoses.
Frequently, because of our continual follow-up, patients have found intestine, lung, and breast tumors that might have otherwise gone undiagnosed.
What is it like working at Bumrungrad?
We work as a team comprised of physicians and nurses specialized in diabetes, as well as nutritionists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists who all take part in the caregiving. Bumrungrad has provided this extensive care for a long time now. The Joint Commission International in the USA has accredited our center with its Clinical Care Program Certification in the treatment of diabetes for the third time in a row (performed every three years). Without Bumrungrad’s excellent team, we would not have achieved this positive assessment.
What is your guiding work principle?
The medical profession deals with human life at its most fragile state, so it requires the utmost prudence. Our guiding principle is to treat our patients as if they were our relatives. Furthermore, we must always seek new knowledge because treatments and methods get outdated so fast these days. Finally, we must have an open mind to listen to our patients; otherwise, we can’t perform our best for them.
Specializing in Surgical Oncology
When medical professionals speak of specialists treating breast cancer, they often mention Assist. Prof. Dr. Youwanush Kongdan. In addition to treating breast cancer patients at Bumrungrad, Dr. Youwanush is also a teacher at the Division of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, which has developed many successful treatments and produced many skilled doctors.
What is it like being a breast cancer surgeon?
Surgical treatment for patients with cancer is different from other diseases. When patients find out they have cancer, they feel devastated as all their life plans collapse. They feel sad and depressed.
Physicians must be able to communicate compassionately with them at this terrible time. I tell many patients that even in misfortune, some luck can be found. It is bad to have cancer, but to have breast cancer is better than in other places because current treatment methods have improved substantially.
How have treatment methods changed?
Formerly, when breast cancer was detected, women had their breast surgically removed. A patient once told me that after her mastectomy, her husband became distant because he felt as if she were defective. That was a turning point for me. I knew I had to do something to make a difference. I went to Italy (renowned for its advanced breast surgery technology) for a workshop in breast-conserving surgery. When breast conservation is not possible, we try for breast reconstruction. Our goal is to provide patients with a better quality of life.
What is your work philosophy?
Practice professional integrity. With breast cancer, if we can keep the breast, it must be kept. If that’s not possible and I must perform a mastectomy, I ask patients whether they want us to rebuild the breast area. We will not suggest a mastectomy and replace it with implants right away because such major surgery is now unnecessary as less invasive treatments give similar results. Second, to provide effective treatment, we must keep in mind the patient’s desired outcome and plan treatment accordingly. Finally, I believe in team building; I share knowledge and techniques with the support team as well as other physicians to enhance patient care.