Tribute to a terrific professor

Down memory lane : Prof Delilkan (centre, in black shirt) with his former students, all anaesthesiologists from around the country including Prof Marzida (right) and Assoc Prof Mohd Basri (second from right). The writer Dr Rao is in red shirt (foreground).

HE claims to be a millionaire but he measures his wealth not in monetary terms but in the pride and satisfaction of seeing his students succeed and shine.

Prof Datuk Dr Alex Delilkan, is one of the few anaesthesiologists who never left for private practice despite the lures of an attractive salary.

He has however managed to impart his knowledge to his students, many of whom are now successful anaesthesiologists.

“There’s nothing to beat the joy of nurturing others and the immense satisfaction in seeing your students succeed, particularly in caring for the critically ill ... that to me is enough, I do feel like a millionaire,” he said.

Being professor emeritus of anaesthesiology and critical care is no ordinary feat for this octogenarian whose career spans over five decades.

Recently to mark the 50th year of his academic tenure at Universiti Malaya (UM), his former students held a dinner to honour him.

They were anaesthesiologists from both the private and public sector.

Among those present were Prof Dr Marzida Mansor from UM, Brigadier General (R) Datuk Dr S. Jegatheesan and Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Basri Mat Nor from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Pahang.

Prof Delilkan is still lecturing at five varsities. He is also visiting professor at the Royal Perak College of Medicine in Ipoh, Perak.

He joined UM as a lecturer in June 1965.

In 1978, Prof Delilkan was instrumental in designing and writing the blueprint for postgraduate training and certification in anaesthesiology in Malaysia – the Master in Anaes-thesiology Programme and Certification.

He headed the anaesthetic teams involved in the first successful separation of conjoint twins in Malaysia in 1981, and the first successful delivery of quintuplets in Malaysia in 1996.

In 1998, he worked with UM’s Law Faculty in revising the Human Tissues Act 1974, to establish the National Transplantation Programme.

He is currently an active member of the Preliminary Investigations Committee of the Malaysian Medical Council and the Academy of Medicine.

He has also been appointed a steering committee member of the Malaysian Chapter Bioethics Centre Asia-Pacific Region of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Prof Delilkan was conferred the Fellowship of the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia in 1997.

In 2004 he became the first Professor Emeritus from UM’s Faculty of Medicine to be given the honour.

He has published 16 books related to anaesthesiology and critical care, and has countless papers on both the topics, medico-legal ethical issues as well as brain death, published in international journals.

The dinner which was an informal event saw Dr Abdul Majid thanking our “guru” on behalf of the group.

Prof Delilkan was later presented with a token of appreciation.

There was much fun and and camaraderie as his former students exchanged funny tales and reminisced about the old times while keeping up with current events.

It was certainly an evening to remember. – By Datuk Dr Anselm Suresh Rao

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