Meet Dr K S Rao- A living legend with the ability to change people’s lives.

Nov. 19, 2020, 2:57 p.m.

By:Reshma Jain

For many, life begins at 20. The numerology number 20 resonates with service and primarily focuses on relationships. As a universal number, 20 includes all energies of the planets along with the rest of the universe. Number 20 in the Bible symbolizes the cycle of completeness. The number 20 denotes one who has infinite potential. And as we all know the year 2020 will remain historical.

For Dr K S Prakasa Rao, the number 20 seems to be a very important one. You might wonder why have I mentioned the various aspects to number 20 in the first para. Well, it is not because it is my favourite number but for the simple reason that I could relate all the above aspects of the number 20 to Dr Rao. But let me tell you a little more about Dr Rao and the connection with number 20.

Dr Rao was born on November 20. He is popularly known as ‘Twenty Rupees Doctor’. He got a seat in one of the renowned medical colleges when he was 20 years old. In the initial days of setting up a clinic (around 60 years ago), the average number of patients were 20. And now, I’m sure I can write over 20 pages to narrate the story of Dr Rao (:-D). Anyway, before I get into the interesting life journey of Dr Rao, this is my tribute to Dr Rao on his 80th birthday which falls on November 20, 2020.

One of the senior-most doctors from Visakhapatnam, Dr Rao is known for his qualities. Even at this age, he stands for around 9-10 hours a day and treats his patients. There are no prior appointments and people need to stand in line to consult him. He does not have any assistants as he deals with every patient on an individual basis. He also prescribes affordable allopathic medicines. He has been serving society for the past 60 years by charging bare minimum from his patients.

Born to an upper middle class family with no medical background, Dr Rao hails from Samalkota in Andhra Pradesh. When he turned four years, the family shifted to Visakhapatnam. The family set up a small kirana store and a firewood shop in the city. Dr Rao completed his elementary and higher school education from a government school. He then pursued his Intermediate and B Sc from AVN college, Visakhapatnam.

An interesting point to be made here is that Dr Rao’s family were the first ones to introduce cycle rickshaws in Visakhapatnam before auto rickshaws came into existence. Having procured them from Nagpur, these cycle rickshaws which are now rare to find were rented to the rickshaw pullers on hourly basis to ferry passengers. The rent, 70 years down the lane, ranged from Rs 1- Rs 3, depending on the number of hours.

When Dr Rao turned 13, his father expired. With responsibility on his shoulders, Dr Rao soon realised the need to support his family. After having completed his graduation, Dr Rao had applied for an MBBS seat. Although Dr Rao was awarded a merit, he did not get the medical seat due to various reasons. Hence, he completed a certification course in Radiology Assistance from King George Hospital (KGH) and passed in first class. He again applied for the MBBS seat the next year (when he turned 20) and got a seat. He got a top rank in Organic Chemistry in first year of MBBS. Having got an university rank in General Surgery in the final year of his MBBS, he secured an admission in Post-Graduation in General Surgery in Andhra Medical College (AMC) and completed his PG under the guidance of Dr Sundar Ram Murthy.

But before pursuing his PG, Dr Rao set up a clinic ‘Tirumala Fever Hospital’ in Railway new colony, Vizag and started his medical practice. He simultaneously managed his studies and practice by giving consultations from 7-9 am and 6-8 pm. Compared to other doctors, Dr Rao was different in his approach and practice. After establishing his clinic, people in large numbers started to consult him for treatment. But Dr Rao charged only Rs 2 per patient for consultation, prescription and treatment including injections. For the next 10 years, Dr Rao besides consulting patients used to perform surgeries in private hospitals and nursing homes.

“The number of patients in the clinic increased from 20, 50 to 100 people per day. I started to give full-time to patient consultations in my clinic. People used to stand in long queues and wait for their turn. Although the number of patients increased, I never wanted an assistant or a nurse. I used to deal directly with the patient and provide them the required treatment,” said Dr Rao while speaking to Socio Story.

On being asked the reason for having no assistance, Dr Rao said, “During my career, I noticed a lot of mistakes being committed by the intermediaries/assistants of Doctors. Be it administering injections or other check-ups, there was a lot of gap created by the assistants. The repercussions of these mistakes took a toll not only on the patient but also the family. From then on, I decided to deal with the patient directly and explain the person along with him/her on the required treatment.” 

For three decades, Dr Rao had charged only Rs 2 per patient. With increase in the cost of injections and other material, Dr Rao gradually increased the charge from Rs 2, Rs 3 to Rs 5 and then to Rs 10 in a span of next ten years. When the new rule for disposable syringes came into force a couple of years back, Dr Rao increased the fee to Rs 20 and it still continues.

“Now, there are around 250-300 people who visit for consultation and treatment for various ailments on a daily basis. I practice for 8-9 hours a day and ever since my practice, there has never been a holiday. This is because I enjoy my profession and I believe that I am physically and mentally capable to treat people who are suffering,” said Dr Rao.

Adding that he is accustomed to the routine of standing and treating patients, Dr Rao said that he would continue to serve the society by charging minimal fee. “After seeing my journey and service in the field of medicine, there are five people in my family who are now doctors in different streams of medicine,” said Dr Rao concluding that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

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