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Elder Gupta Knows Best, Says Mom

India-West, News Report, Sunita Sohrabji Posted: Jan 07, 2009

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNNs chief medical correspondent, has reportedly been tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as the countrys first Indian American surgeon general.

Gupta, who hosts CNNs House Call, and also reports for CBS News, is a neurosurgeon, and on the faculty of Emory Universitys School of Medicine in Atlanta. At press time, he had not confirmed reports of his possible appointment or whether he would take the position.

Damayanti Gupta, Sanjays mother, told India-West that her son had met with Obama in Chicago in November, and that the president-elect had offered him the post after the two-hour meeting. Gupta also met with Tom Daschle, nominee for the post of secretary at the department of Health and Human Services, she said.

Sanjay is considering the offer very seriously, said Damayanti Gupta, by telephone from her home in Northville, Mich. But hes also very concerned about the impact on his family.

Gupta, 39, and his wife Rebecca have two young daughters, Sage, 4, and Sky, 2, with another baby due this February. The couple is also building a new home in Atlanta, where CNN is headquartered.

Damayanti Gupta said Sanjay had had several conversations with his father Subhash about the possible appointment. He speaks to us every day and will not sign on any line without talking to his dad, she told India-West.

Her sons career has been completely focused on health care, said Damayanti Gupta, adding that Sanjay would likely concentrate on obesity and fitness if appointed, along with stem cell research.

Jesse Lewin, in the Obama-Biden transition teams press office, told India-West Jan. 6 that the office could not confirm media reports of the appointment, and also could not say when or if an announcement would be made.

CNN issued a statement saying: Since first learning that Dr. Gupta was under consideration for the surgeon general position, CNN has made sure that his on-air reporting has been on health and wellness matters and not on health-care policy or any matters involving the new administration."

CNN reported Jan. 6 that Gupta had declined to comment, but had approached management at CNN and CBS about the possibility of getting out of his contract.

This is wonderful news, Dr. Hemant Patel, immediate past president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, told India-West. Obama has made an excellent choice by picking Dr. Gupta, with all his wonderful work.

Patel said the AAPI has lobbied the administration on Guptas behalf and will continue to lobby for him through the confirmation process.

If appointed, Patel felt Gupta should focus on the national epidemic of diabetes, with its resulting complications of kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes. Cardiovascular health should also be a focus of the new administration, said Patel, along with womens health issues, such as breast cancer and postpartum depression.

Gupta previously served as a White House fellow during the Clinton administration and then served as a special advisor to then first lady Hillary Clinton.

He began reporting for CNN in 2001, immediately covering the terrorist attacks in New York that September and later reporting on the anthrax attacks that followed. In 2003, Gupta was an embedded reporter with Devil Docs, a U.S. Navy Medical Corps unit in Iraq, and became front-page news himself when he performed neurosurgery on five critically wounded patients, including a two-year-old Iraqi boy. India-West profiled Gupta after his return from Iraq (I-W, May 9, 2003).

Gupta received his degrees from the University of Michigan. His parents Subhash and Damayanti are both retired engineers from the Ford Motor Company, where Damayanti was the companys first female engineer.

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