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Dr Mohammad Ayub
Setting world records in an unknown town
By Zafarul-Islam Khan

Dr Ayub (right) with MG editor; Left: The hospital from outside. Photos: Ahmad Rahmani

For many years people coming from my home-town of Azamgarh in eastern U.P. talked about the legendary achievements of one man: Dr Ayub who lives and practices in a small town in the adjoining district of Gorakhpur. I asked a number of people to prepare a write-up about him and to get his photographs. Many promised but no one delivered. The stories they told were quite interesting: here was a successful physician who did exceptionally well in his field yet charged his patients very little to the point of driving local surgeons crazy. Surgeons of the area, the story goes, came to him in a delegation to ask him to raise his fees because, as they claimed, he was ruining their business. His reply was that he'd rather lower his fees if he could! One of them is said to have planned his murder to get rid of him. But the kidnappers who were going to kill him turned to his protectors when they realized their folly. They not only let him off but joined the security staff of his hospital at his invitation.

I visited Azamgarh last November after a gap of around three decades and one of my main tasks was to meet this man whose stories went far and wide. We tried to phone him from Azamgarh but somehow the telephone system did not help us in that remote area where everything is erratic. We decided to take a chance and drove to Barhalganj one fine morning in early November without any appointment. Everyone knew the doctor there and soon we found ourself in his Zohra Hospital, a huge and well-equipped institution by the local standards. It has about 100 beds and the charges per bed range from Rs 80 to 300 which is pretty much within the reach of almost any person in the region. 

The doctor was in the operation theatre at the time so we took our time to meet patients and their relatives who were waiting in and around the hospital. They told us that they came here from many parts of eastern U.P. and Bihar. The reason was the doctor's successful operations. They told us that they paid around two to three thousand rupees for an operation and that the doctor charges no fees on Fridays. Moreover, they told us, if someone is poor the doctor does not charge him or her anything.

Soon we were called to a small room which served as the doctor's meeting room on the first floor of his hospital which appeared clean. He couldn't believe it that we had come all the way to Barhalganj just to see him! We tried to coax him to talk about himself and his achievements but he was not forthcoming. He denied that he was doing any special favour to his patients or charging them less than others. 

The doc may have been reluctant to talk about himself but others in Barhalganj and back in Azamgarh were full of praise for him as a man and as a surgeon. 

Dr Ayub graduated in medicine from Banaras Hindu University in 1980. Like many others in his age-group, he appeared in the competitive exams and made it to the IAS allied services and was posted in the customs department. He could not tolerate the rigors of the babudom for long and left the prestigious bureaucratic service in just six months and went back to his university where he passed his MS in general surgery in 1985 and established his hospital in the same year and never looked back.

Sitting in a small town, Dr Ayub has set world records. He has performed maximum number of mini cholecystectomy operations in the world by single surgical team. Moreover, he has performed a mini cholecystectomy operation in just six minutes - another world record! He is slated to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records soon. Guinness researchers have already come twice to his hospital and checked the records themselves. Dr Ayub is a living example that armed with dedication and sincerity you can achieve excellence just about anywhere in the world.

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