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Dr. Karam Singh Grewal was born on February 4, 1908, at village Rai Singh Wala, Patiala, Punjab. His father Mr. S. Uttam Singh was a farmer by occupation. He completed his primary schooling from Mohindra College, Patiala, in 1928. He obtained his MBBS degree from prestigious King Edward Medical College, Lahore, with a first in all major subjects. He was the best outgoing graduate of Punjab University, Lahore for the year 1933. He established a Gurudwara in his college along with his friends. He was married to Mrs. Mohindra Kaur Grewal.1,2,3
After completing his graduation, he worked in various capacities such as house job and as an assistant demonstrator in pathology. He joined Punjab Civil Medical Services in 1935 and worked at various places including Central Jail, Multan; Mental Hospital, Lahore; Isa Khel in North-West-Frontier-Province of Pakistan; and Bhera in Sargodha District of Ferozepur. He did special training in tuberculosis from Tiruchirappalli, Chennai. He joined medical college in 1941 as a lecturer in anatomy. He obtained his M.S. degree in 1945 while working in ENT Department. He went to England in 1947 under Colombo Plan for training in orthopedics. He worked in Royal National Orthopedic Hospital, London and passed FRCS examination in 1948.
He returned to India in 1949 and established the Department of Orthopedics in Amritsar Medical College, which was the fifth such department in India after Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, and Lucknow. Within a few years of establishment, this department at Amritsar became quite popular for patient care, teaching, and research. He trained many young orthopedic surgeons, who later became renowned figures in Indian Orthopedics and even headed orthopedic departments in various medical colleges and hospitals in India as well as abroad. He became a professor in 1958 and also served as Principal of Government Medical College, Amritsar. He got retired from the government job in 1968. He was appointed as Visiting Professor of Orthopedics in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and continued till 1975. He passed away on 6th January 1976 at the age of 68 years. He was blessed with eight daughters and one son. There is a Karam Singh Memorial Orthopedic and Multispecialty Hospital in Amritsar, which was started in his name.
During the 1965 India-Pakistan war, he, along with his friend Dr. Nirankari, Medical Superintendent of medical college hospital, formed a band of dedicated doctors, nurses, and paramedics who worked round the clock to look after the wounded soldiers.
He was an excellent teacher and clinician. He was a multifaceted personality. He was an expert Dholak Player. He had a unique quality of being ambidextrous and could use his both hands with equal efficacy. Being a plant lover, he established Punjab Horticulture Society; of which he was founder President. He was a very good marksman. He was a voracious reader and had more than 100 books in his personal library. He was a very good chess player too.
His contributions toward Indian orthopedics are enormous. He presented his research in many international and national conferences. He has many publications of national as well as of international repute. He introduced Amritsar approach to the hip joint, a posterolateral approach, which he used to call as anatomical approach. He also worked on etiopathogenesis of Volkmann's Ischemic Contracture (VIC) through venous obstruction by ligating the veins, contradicting the theory of arterial obstruction being the etiology of VIC. He also advocated “Split tibialis anterior tendon transfer” in relapsed clubfoot deformities.
He was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Indian Orthopedic Association (IOA), the decision of creating this association was made in his drawing room in December 1955. He also served as the president of IOA in 1959–1960. He was also a founder fellow of prestigious National Academy of Medical Sciences. Every year, Dr. Karam Singh Commemoration eponymous lecture is delivered at the Annual Conference of IOA, and another Dr. Karam Singh Memorial Oration is delivered every year in the Annual Conference of North Zone Indian Orthopedic Association.
There are no conflicts of interest.