An orthopaedic surgeon specialising in hip, knee, trauma and osseointegration surgery, Dr Khemka is a research scholar at the University of Notre Dame, Australia and has a keen interest in ‘Revision Hip and Knee Arthroplasty’, especially total/partial femur replacements. After working with some of the world’s best institutions and hospitals, he now is back in India and looks forward to transforming many lives.
Originally from Fatehpur, Rajasthan, Aditya Khemka’s father, Sanjay Khemka, came from Kolkata to Mumbai in the 1980s to start a power plant business. He consulted for companies abroad and shipped heavy electrical machinery such as actuators and valves, needed for large power plants.
Born and brought up in South Mumbai, Khemka studied at the city’s Greenlawns High School, securing a whopping 93 per cent in the 10th Standard. He then joined Jai Hind College, aspiring to get into MBBS, and then set his sights on the coveted CET rank. His hard work paid off at the end of two years when he secured a seat at K J Somaiya Medical College and Research Centre. The next five years were a breeze. But why did he not join the family business? In reply, Dr Khemka says, “Business never ignited a spark in me; it gave me a sense of ‘mundane-ness’. I was always inspired by my maternal grandfather, Dr H R Jhunjhunwala, a prominent orthopaedic surgeon in Mumbai. His demeanour, his white coat, his tools and the respect he got for all the work he did, excited me. The timings and the hard work, as was often reminded about by my mother, never bothered me.”
MBBS done, Dr Khemka got in touch with surgeons in USA who had made significant contributions to surgery, and this culminated in him travelling to USA on three separate occasions to pursue clerkships in bariatric and minimal access general surgery at the Brookdale University Hospital in New York and cardiothoracic surgery at the Yale New Haven Medical College & Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut.
Working his fingers to the bone
Returning to India, he joined the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in Belgaum, Karnataka and obtained his degree in orthopaedics, MS (Orth), in 2012. Back again in Mumbai, he started his career in orthopaedics as a house surgeon—a junior level—working his way up to be chief registrar in various municipal hospitals in Mumbai. There was something about the world of bones that always fascinated him. Dr Khemka explains: “While studying to become an orthopaedic surgeon, I came across these words one day: ‘One can spit in the abdomen, but can’t even breathe on the bone, due to high risk of infections.’ This spurred me on even more to pursue my dream to be a bone and joint surgeon.”
While studying at Belgaum, Dr Khemka was made the chief convener of a state conference where they played host to the Karnataka Orthopedic Association Conference. He was given the responsibility of organising all the talks for the event and this led to his acquaintanceship with Dr Munjed Al Muderis from Sydney, Australia, who was a specialist in ‘osseointegration and computerised joint replacement surgery’. This was to result in a post-specialisation fellowship for Dr Khemka, where he worked with Dr Al Muderis and began his training in hip and knee surgery. Recalling one of his interactions with him, Dr Khemka says, “One day, during a surgery, Dr Al Munjed told me, ‘I have taught you all I know, and it is time to move on.’ And then, in the next breath he said, ‘Hold on, I don’t want you to go.’” This made Dr Khemka realise what was to be the next turn of his career. “An opportunity came by to help set up an osseointegration centre in the Netherlands and I gladly took it,” he continues. Simultaneously, he also got exposed to excellent surgical processes under some ‘Revision’ surgeons in Nijmegen and then he knew what he wanted to super specialise in. “Doing fractures, joint replacements excited me but the challenge of being a ‘Revision Surgeon’ was phenomenal,” continues Dr Khemka. “So I decided to move to England to work under some stalwarts in revision arthroplasty and arthroscopy. The next two years saw me doing a lot of independent work for the NHS (National Health Service) and learning some of the toughest techniques in orthopaedic surgery.”
After soaking in all the experiences from across the world, Dr Khemka has just returned to India this year with his wife, Shubhangi.
He now works with Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai, as a full-time orthopaedic surgeon. It is just a few months that he has returned and he has already a client list that spans from 45 – 97-year-olds, having also successfully treated polio patients and small children with fractures.
Dr Khemka is one of the very few doctors in India and the world specialising in osseointegration. Speaking about how this procedure will make a difference in existing practices in India, he says, “Existing practices involve amputees mobilising on socket prosthesis—and those who do not do well with one (which is nearly 50 per cent) are almost always confined to a wheelchair. Osseointegration has the potential to not only change the practice in civilians but the military as well. It can dynamically alter what patients receive and bring them at par with able-bodied individuals.”
Osseointegration will soon make its foray in India and Dr Khemka is all set to play a crucial role in it. “I have just started my practice in India and am currently working on multiple things to streamline the introduction. It requires a robust and technically sound set-up, which I have been able to isolate at Hinduja. I am trying to identify the individuals who I would need at all levels to formulate a team to start the procedure,” Dr Khemka explains. “I am meeting prosthetists from all over the country and introducing the topic to them, and trying to train them to understand the componentry. I envisage this process should be completed by the second half of 2018, for us to start with the first few procures.”
He does feel that at this stage, the concept is novel and not many have the know-how and skill set to administer it. Patients are trying to get in touch with him constantly to get this done, or in order to know about the procedure—thanks to his experience abroad and the work being done in Australia. He is confident that India will receive it well.
A doctor has countless memorable moments in his life. Dr Khemka’s most landmark moment was that of operating on a military man, who had lost his legs in a landmine blast in Afghanistan. Seeing him walk again after knowing his entire story had left Dr Khemka misty-eyed. His other happy moments include something as simple as doing his first ‘Revision Complex Total Joint Replacement’ to operating on Brian Lara.
Beyond the world of orthopaedics and surgery, Dr Khemka also works with a couple of NGOs, namely, Archana Trust and Lions Club. His other passions include travel and adventure sports.
On a personal front, Dr Khemka considers himself fortunate to be married to his soulmate, Shubhangi, who is his ultimate support system. And the joys are just about to multiply with the couple expecting their first child. So, happily, be it at work or at home, it’s new, happy beginnings all the way for Dr Khemka.