From the President's Desk

Dear friends,

Entering the final fortnight of my Presidency of PACES, I am filled with gratitude for this opportunity to serve and for the support I have received this past year from so many members.

When I became President, one of my old medical school friends wished me luck with a cynical tone and told me to expect untold grief and politics. I recall telling him: “EP’s are a different breed. We actually enjoy each others’ company”. And so it has been. The monthly EC calls are friendly, focused, and collegial. We support each other. We pitch in and get things done. There are no personality issues, no behind the scenes talk, no hypocrisy, no politics. Past presidents have told me how much they miss the monthly calls. That tells you all you need to know about our colleagues. I am glad I get to stay on for two more years and play a lesser role as a past President.

This upcoming year, we will miss Bryan (Cannon) at the calls, especially his adherence to strict standards to maintain our financial viability. We will miss Thomas Paul for his European perspective. And looking at those coming after: Tess, then Prince, then Jeff, I can tell you categorically that the society is in excellent hands. And how about Melissa, our AP member. An amazing person with such enthusiasm and drive, who has done so much for us and our patients. Each works hard for the society and have already made such huge contributions. I cannot mention this group without talking about Maully. No one works harder. No one drives us harder to achieve more as a group. I will be forever grateful for her friendship, her guidance and her example which makes me want to do more than what I think is possible.

Outside of the EC, there have been so many others who have pitched in and they are too many to mention by name. However, out of everyone who has helped us, I want to highlight Shashank Behere from Oklahoma who has been working so hard behind the scenes to make every aspect of our website and our communications work. This past year, we really couldn’t have done much without his help. Our entire society owes him and his website committee a huge debt of gratitude.

Aside from the regular work, I had two major objectives this year. Firstly to increase our international visibility. Starting the PACES-ECHO program has been one of the most personally rewarding things I have done in my career. Seeing the enthusiasm of pediatricians, pediatric cardiologists, adult cardiologists, and others from all around the world who attend this monthly zoom meeting has been worth all the work put in. So many of you have pitched in to help with this program and I am grateful to each and every one.

My second objective was to make the discussion board at our website more user friendly, and a venue for regular discussions of things of interest, including patient care. We have begun this process, again thanks to the Website committee. I know that Tess is also a huge proponent of this discussion forum and am sure this will grow in the coming years. In this regard, I ask each of you to open the website at least once a week, go to the discussion board and contribute your thoughts and opinions. As EM Forster said: “Only connect”. We are nothing as a society if we do not connect.
Lastly, I wish to tie in the state of the world. In May last year, George Floyd was murdered and the country erupted in indignation. Last week, finally, the justice system worked and delivered a measure of justice to the Floyd family which is not just his kith and kin but all of us who watched him die and shed silent tears of rage. We all felt vindicated. The first words out of my mouth when I heard the verdict was “Hallelujah”.

This ties in with two books I read recently. “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson which shows the parallels between the caste system in India (the country of my birth) and the slave system in America (my country now). The systematic relegation of some people as sub-human and the toll that wreaks on all of us, including the oppressors.

The second book was “Leadership” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, where she delves into the lives and career of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Each of whom experienced unbelievable tragedy and then rose above it to use their gifts to serve others. And reading it made me realize that we still have not realized the hopes of LBJ who, over 50 years ago, said “We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. We have talked for a hundred years or more. It is time now to write the next chapter, and to write it in the books of law!”

So, what can we, each of us, do? I want to leave you with the notion that leadership is the use of whatever power we have (formal or informal) to serve others, to leave the world better than we found it. Our role and impact may be small, but that need not deter us. We are lucky to be living through an amazing time in the field of medicine when so much is possible. All we can do is be thankful and try hard to leave those who come after us better off than we are.

Please be sure to join our annual business meeting on Thursday May 6th at 3 PM Eastern, 12 Noon Pacific, 8 PM British, 9 PM Central European, 0030 (Friday 7th May) India and 5 AM (Friday 7th May) Australia time.

Thanks again for giving me this incredible opportunity to do my small part. I am profoundly grateful.

Seshadri Balaji MBBS, MRCP(UK), PhD, FHRS, CEPS,
President, PACES (The Pediatric and Congenital Electrophysiology Society),
Professor, Department of Pediatrics,
Division of Cardiology,
Oregon Health & Science University,
Portland OR 97239
Phone: 503 494 7306
Fax: 503 494 2824