Dr Tsering Norbu was born in the quaint village of Nimmo in 1941 which was 35 km from Leh. His family, like most of the other families in the region, earn their living through agriculture. He ompleted his Class 12 from government schools in Leh and then left for Srinagar to pursue his BSc. After getting his Bachelors’ degree, he was selected to pursue an MBBS degree at the city’s Government Medical College in 1959. He became the first practising surgeon of Ladakh.
After finishing his MBBS, Dr Norbu returned back to home in order to serve people in his region. He was appointed as a medical officer at the government’s Health Unit in Nubra Valley in 1965. He served the position in Nubra Valley till 1970. After that, he was appointed as a Medical Officer at the District Hospital in Leh until 1975.
In 1978, he finished his Masters in general surgery. After that, he joined the Sonam Norboo Memorial Hospital in Leh as a surgeon. When his career as a surgeon started, the District hospital in which he was appointed had only 20 beds.
His recalls his experience by saying that there was a glaring shortage of supporting staff and the hospital had a very poor infrastructure. A surgeon needs assistance of an anaesthetist during procedures and he didn’t even have an anaesthetist for years.
As he was the only practising surgeon in the entire erstwhile Ladakh district so, he had to handle all the emergency cases as there was no way of transporting patients to Delhi or Chandigarh. Even though all of these challenges, Dr Norbu had only one unsuccessful procedure during his entire career. His companions would be amazed at the complicated surgeries he had performed. He handled all kinds of surgeries–abdominal, orthopaedic, gynaecological and obstetrics, etc.
He retired from his government services in 1999 and until then. Even after his retirement, he still checks on patients and performs surgeries. Between 2001 and 2006, he performed surgeries at Mahabodhi Karuna Charitable Hospital, in which poor patients from neighbouring areas get access to free treatment. Presently, Dr Norbu is nearly 80 years old but still continues to see patients in the morning. Throughout his career of 28 years, he never took leave and performed more than 10,000 surgeries.