Brain Surgeon in Buffalo Gives Back

Dr. Kumar Bahuleyan in India (Buffalo News)

“I was born with nothing; I was educated by the people of that village, and this is what I owe to them,” said neurosurgeon Dr. Kumar Bahuleyan, 81, about his donations to Chemmanakary, Kerala, the village where he was born. (“Buffalo neurosurgeon donates $20 million to his native Indian village,”The Buffalo News)

“As an ‘untouchable,’ Bahuleyan had to take a roundabout route to school because he wasn’t allowed to pass within a few hundred yards of the Hindu temple, even though he was born a Hindu.” In the 1930s he watched younger siblings die from waterborne disease and suffered from typhoid and smallpox himself.

After reaching the top level of a “lower-caste” school by age 12 or 13, a chance encounter between his father and a headmaster led to his education at an English-language school. After high school he attended medical college in Madras and neurosurgical training in Edinburgh, Scotland. Unable to land a job in his specialty at home, he went to North America and eventually ended up practicing in Buffalo, where he also earned a reputation as a shrewd investor.

His contributions to his birthplace began in a major way in 1989 when his charitable foundation built a small clinic, latrines, roads and a water supply for the villagers, and later on a hospital. In 2004 the foundation opened a spa health resort to help fund his charitable efforts. What’s next? The doctor told NPR that he plans to remedy the village’s landlocked state by building a bridge across the river.

August 8, 2007
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