Pay It Forward: Why Dr. Raja stays connected and gives back

Dr. Raja speaks with fellow retired faculty

Dr. Prathivadibhayankaram Rajagopalan started his transplant surgical career at MUSC in 1976 after completing a two-year MUSC fellowship in transplant surgery.

Over the next thirty-five years, Dr. Raja, as he is popularly called, touched the lives of thousands of patients with end stage renal disease. Clinically, he built the foundation of the MUSC vascular access and kidney-pancreas transplant programs. His commitment to clinical translational research has been at the forefront for introducing new immunosuppressive agents to clinical transplantation. These endeavors helped to build South Carolina’s reputation for having a world-class kidney transplant program with outstanding quality and innovative research serving the most undeserved populations in the state.

In addition to his surgical expertise and leadership at MUSC, Dr. Raja built the foundation for Lifepoint,formerly known as SCOPA (South Carolina Organ Procurement Agency), for organs, tissue and eyes. He served as Medical Director and on the Board of Directors for decades and is responsible for making this one of the top performing OPOs (Organ Procurement Organizations) in the country.

During this long tenure, he educated hundreds of trainees who have benefited from his expertise and he supported MUSCand resident education through his many philanthropic gifts.

Dr. Raja lives by the words of wisdom, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.” (Luke 12:48) Having been blessed with the wealth and knowledge a surgical career provided, Dr. Raja believes it is only fitting to pay it forward to the MUSC surgical faculty and trainees.

When Dr. Raja ceremoniously walked out of the OR for the last time on June 26, 2015, he continued his long-standing commitment to educating hundreds of transplant fellows, medical students, post graduates, pharmacy students and nurses.

At a meeting for retired faculty that explored ways faculty can continue to engage with the Department, Dr. Raja shared why he chooses to stay involved in education and give back to the MUSC Department of Surgery. “It’s good to see how the program has grown, how MUSC has grown,” said Dr. Raja. “It’s a privilege to be able to share knowledge to younger faculty and trainees that will help them build a rewarding career.”

Prior to COVID restrictions, a typical Friday morning transplant conference would include transplant surgeons, fellows, pharmacy and medical students, all eager to learn from Dr. Raja’s experiences. “Sharing my experiences and lessons learned pays long term dividends to educating the next generation of surgical leaders,” said Dr. Raja. “A whole host of people attend the conference because they value the importance of learning from experienced surgeons.”

Dr. Raja says he looks forward to when the in-person meeting can resume.

“Modeling professional behaviors and embracing a culture of respect creates a positive culture,” said Prabhakar Baliga, M.D., chair of the MUSC Department of Surgery.“Our residents and fellows are fortunate to learn from Dr.Raja, who is the epitome of the ultimate professional inmoral, ethical and behavioral standards in both clinical and research practice.”