ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s leading neurosurgeon, Serik Akshulakov, has performed more than 5,000 complex operations using special microscopic equipment. Today, the well-known doctor, who also holds the title “Kazakhstan Yenbek Sinirgen Kairatkeri” (Merited Worker of Kazakhstan), heads the National Centre of Neurosurgery (NCN) in Astana. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan and author of 250 scientific publications.
“[President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev’s] initiative on the construction in Astana of a complex of medical clinics of different directions certainly greatly influenced the development of medicine in the country, and neurosurgery in particular,” Akshulakov said.
The doctor was involved in the development of the project. “Earlier in Kazakhstan, we dealt only with neurotraumatology, but now we can do complex operations using high technologies that previously were only performed abroad,” he added.
Akshulakov introduced new options for the surgical treatment of epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, and surgical interventions using neuronavigation. Today, such surgeries are not carried out in any other Central Asian countries. It is not surprising that a lot of people from both near and far abroad are among the centre’s patients.
“We regularly conduct international conferences, round tables with leading experts from around the world, and try to send our doctors abroad to enhance their skills as much as possible,” Akshulakov noted.
“This is reflected in the results of the centre’s work. In the first year, we held about 250 surgeries. Last year there was a minimum of 2,500 of them.”
However, it is quality, not quantity, that is the main goal. Neurosurgery requires special care and precise coordination, with many stretching for 12 hours, all under the microscope.
According to Akshulakov, the stresses of the operations are nothing compared to the relief and joy of sending healthy patients out of the hospital. Sometimes, doctors are even deciding the fate of not one but two people, one of whom has not even seen the light.
Today the NCN accepts and operates on pregnant women with neurosurgical pathologies. It all began with the memorable case of a woman brought from maternity care in a coma in 2008. She had suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage. Akshulakov saved her and her baby.
“That case was a sign for us. The centre had just opened, and we had already successfully conducted such a complex surgery for the first time in Kazakhstan. One can say that we lived up to the hopes for the centre,” he noted.
Akshulakov’s major teacher was academician Alexander Konovalov, who sent the aspiring surgeon, a graduate of Aktobe State Medical Institute, to neurosurgery. Under his leadership, Akshulakov studied and worked in the Burdenko Research Institute of Neurosurgery in Moscow, eventually earning his doctorate there.
After earning his degree, the neurosurgeon and his wife, Bayan Tuleuovna, who also graduated and did her clinical internship at the Moscow school, returned home. The spouses met during their student days in Aktyubinsk, and went on to become famous doctors in Kazakhstan. Now they have two adult sons and four grandchildren. The eldest, Raiymbek, is already finishing school; the youngest, Edyge, is only seven months.
“The second grandson, Aldiyar, who is only 13 years old, is already seriously thinking about the work of a neurosurgeon. Also, my little granddaughter, Aibibi, wants to wear a white coat and treat people. I think they will succeed,” Akshulakov noted.
Akshulakov has won multiple regional and global awards for his work, including the independent Platinum Tarlan Award, “Caring Doctor of the World” from the World Association of Physicians, Kazakhstan’s Altyn Adam award, Russia’s Nikolai Pirogov award, Germany’s Golden Endoscope Prize, Kazakhstan’s State Prize in Science and Technology and Kazakhstan’s Khalyktyn Suiktisi – People’s Favourite, Doctor of the Year award. He is a member of the Eurasian Academy of Neurological Surgeons, honorary professor of the Burdenko Research Institute of Neurosurgery of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Russia and chief part-time neurosurgeon of the Ministry of Health and Social Development of Kazakhstan.