He was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1972 and Padma Vibhushan in 2007

Renowned orthopaedic surgeon Balu Sankaran, who was formerly Director General of Health Services and Director of the World Health Organisation in Geneva, died here on Wednesday of a brief illness.

He was 85 and is survived by his wife, son and two daughters.

An alumnus of Stanley Medical College in Chennai, Dr. Sankaran had his training at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in the U.S. and the Manchester Royal Infirmary, U.K. in the 1950s.

During his illustrious career he held several key positions in famous hospitals in New Delhi and was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1972 and Padma Vibhushan in 2007. Dr. Sankaran began his career as an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and later worked at the Safdarjung Hospital, as professor in the Moulana Azad Medical College and as Emeritus Professor in St. Stephens Hospital.

Dr. Sankaran was instrumental in establishing the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India, of which he was chairman, and the National Institute of Rehabilitation Training and Research in Cuttack.

The list of his famous patients included former Prime Ministers such as Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai and former Presidents V.V. Giri, Zakir Hussain, R. Venkataraman and APJ Abdul Kalam. But, Dr. Sankaran was as much the poor man’s physician, rendering yeomen service to the underprivileged. In particular, his work in reconstruction surgery for leprosy patients and polio-affected children changed the lives of innumerable patients. The cremation will take place in Chennai on Thursday.