The Kerala branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has initiated a probe against a doctor in Kerala for his 2009 testimony to a Catholic Church tribunal that a new-born under his treatment was cured of acute respiratory issues due to the intervention of Mariam Thresia, who was made a Saint at a ceremony in the the Vatican on October 13.
The ethics committee of the IMA is probing the claims of Dr V K Sreenivasan, a senior paediatrician at the Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Thrissur.
The baby — later named Christopher — was born on April 7, 2009 prematurely and was suffering from acute respiratory trouble. He was placed under the care of Sreenivasan at the Amala Hospital. After the doctor informed the parents that chances of baby’s survival were dim, the parents had placed a relic of Mariam Thresia at his bed in the evening of 9 August. Next day, the baby was found breathing normally.
The Church had formed a tribunal in Thrissur where Sreenivasan had testified that it was a miracle, rather than medical intervention.
IMA state general secretary Dr Sulphi N said a doctor should not have used his professional title to promote the issue.
A major reason for canonisation
In March 2018, a Vatican medical team had examined the issue of the infant’s recovery and certified that it was a miracle. This was one of the major reasons behind Mariam Thresia’s canonisation on October 13. Kerala-born Catholic nun Thresia was declared a saint by Pope Francis in Rome. She is the third nun and fourth clergy member from the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church, one of the prominent eastern churches under the Vatican, to be canonised into the league of saints. Five others were canonised with her.
“IMA, which is campaigning against unscientific methods of treatment, cannot agree with the act of the doctor. IMA is not against any religion or religious belief. Even the doctor who had certified it can believe it, or not. But when he uses the title of a doctor to testify, there should be scientific evidence. If his explanation is not satisfactory, we can refer the matter to the ethics committee of Travancore-Cochin Medical Council for further action,” he said.
He added that Sreenivasan should have backed his testimony with evidence. The act of acknowledging an unscientific method would dent the credibility of the medical professional and modern medicine, said the IMA office-bearer.
Dr Sreenivasan refused to comment on the issue after his return from St Thresia’s canonisation ceremony at the Vatican.
The Catholic Church meanwhile, stepped away from the matter. “The Church does not want to intervene in the issue. Let the doctor who has given the testimonial defend himself before the IMA,” said Syro-Malabar Church spokesman Fr Abraham Kavilpurayidam.