“In Ernest Quest”, a book released on the life of Oncologist Dr Ernest Borges

Goan Drs pay tribute to a humanist at Tata Memorial Hospital


Top surgeons of Goa and a green activist together released a book, “In Ernest Quest”, written on eminent Goan oncologist Dr Ernest Borges, written by his daughter Renee. 

At International Centre Goa at Dona Paula, the valuable book on the dedicated life of a Goan oncologist known all over India for his compassionate behaviour and humanism was released on 14 January. 

It was released at the hands of eminent dental surgeon Dr Suresh Shetye, Goa Medical College Dean Prof. Dr Shivanand Bandekar, cancer surgeon Dr Shekar Salkar, Goa’s veteran surgeon Dr Bossuet Afonso, Padma Shree awardee and green activist Adv Norma Alvares, a longtime friend of the family.

The book is the result of several years of a quest by Renee to understand a man she knew only as her father. She was just ten years old when her father succumbed to the very disease that he had dedicated his professional career at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai to understand and treat. 

In a brief introduction to the genesis of the book, Renee talked of her realization that her father was more than just a skilled surgeon and loving pater familias, when she witnessed the tributes paid to Ernest Borges on his birth centenary. 

He was a figure revered by his patients, his students, and society at large; known for his kindness, compassion, and generosity of spirit, while at the same time being exacting in matters which involved patient care, she recalled. 

He was a great communicator who had a passion for teaching and a great sense of humor. He was a man of integrity with a deep and abiding interest in philosophy and ethics, held in high regard by the Catholic Church which had bestowed on him its highest civilian honors. Yet this did not deter him from questioning its stand on issues of dogma and morality, she added. 

All this and more she learned from personal interviews with a host of professional and lay people. Some of these voices were played at the event. Dr Ernest Borges was, as Renee succinctly describes him, truly a man of science and a man of god.

Dr Shetye spoke about the virtues of Dr Ernest Borges and recounted how even today people remember his skill and kindness. 

Dr Bandekar held him up as a role model worthy of being emulated by the medical profession of today. He made a pledge to have the book displayed prominently in the GMC library for the students to read and be inspired by the life of this great man. 

Dr Salkar in his inimitable earthy style recounted his days as a trainee onco-surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, where the name of Ernest Borges was constantly on the lips of his teachers, great surgeons all, and on the road on which TMH stands.


Dr Afonso remembered Ernest Borges through the personal account of his grandmother who was treated by him. He was a young lad but remembered the account that his father shared of his encounter with Dr Borges. He emphasized the importance of the gentle touch that brings comfort to a patient which is missing in today’s medicine that prides itself on investigations and where the patient often is a mere spectator. 

Adv Alvares related her experience of the shock when she visited the family home for the funeral of Dr Borges who died before he reached his sixtieth birthday. Around the house was a sea of mourners, most being ordinary people, grieving for a man who had touched their lives in so many ways.

Dr Sidney Pinto Rosario, Dr Joseph Britto, Dr Kedar Padte, Dr Reshma Salelkar and Ivo Cardoso also paid tributes from the floor.

The event was well attended by prominent doctors and people from civil society as well as the children and extended family of Ernest Borges. Dr Francisco Couto compered.  

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