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Updated: July 15, 2013 08:46 IST

Eminent gastroenterologist Rangabashyam dead

Ramya Kannan
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A file photo of Dr. Rangabashyam.
Special Arrangement A file photo of Dr. Rangabashyam.

Eminent surgical gastroenterologist, surgeon and teacher, N. Rangabashyam, died peacefully in his sleep in his home in Chennai, early on Sunday.

He was 79, and is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. Dr. Rangabashyam was a pioneer in the field of surgical gastroenterology and proctology in India, and was respected by many in his profession as a senior colleague, an excellent teacher, a guide and even an inspiration for many young students of medicine.

Feted for his achievements by reputed institutions across the world, Dr. Rangabashyam began his illustrious career at one of Tamil Nadu’s premier medical colleges — Madras Medical College. He was first appointed as Professor of Gastroenterology in India in November 1974, and was the first person to start a separate department for Surgical Gastroenterology, and went on to head it. He also started the first to start the M.Ch. (Surgical Gastroenterology) degree course in India.

In fact, he is the claimant to many such firsts in the field of his choice: ostomy department, enterostomal therapy diploma for nurses, reputedly, the first to introduce staplers in surgery in the country, perform laparostomies, and one of the pioneers of hepatobiliary surgery in the country. His contributions on Colitis, Bowel Cancer, and other gastro-intestinal cancers, portal hypertension and bowel disease in the tropics have had a major impact, other experts in the field acknowledge.

With over three decades of experience in teaching at the undergraduate and post graduate levels, he has contributed chapters to the Oxford Textbook of Surgery and in the Recent Advances in Surgery series. He is credited with playing a key role in bringing the FRCS Edinburgh Examination to be conducted in India since 1995. He took a proactive role in conducting awareness camps for the public, and regular continuing medical education programmes for doctors.

He was appointed Honorary Surgeon to the President of India by former President R. Venkataraman and was a consultant surgeon at the Armed Forces Medical College.

Sure enough, recognition and honours found their way to him from across the country and abroad. The Padma Bhushan came in 2002, and Prof. NR, as he was fondly called, received the Dr. B.C. Roy National Award for eminent medical person twice. His name is inscribed in the Wall of Honour of the Royal Society of Medicine, Edinburgh. He received the Living Legend award from the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in 2010. Apart from honours in surgical gastroenterology, he was also elected Active Member of the Breast Surgery International (BSI) by the International Society of Surgery 1999.

Some of his students, leaders by their own merit today, recalled fondly his guidance, commitment and devotion to the cause of teaching. S.M. Chandramohan, head, Surgical Gastroenterology, Madras Medical College, says “Prof. NR is the perfect example of all a doctor should be. Under his guidance, many fine specialists have emerged, and have been inspired to handle major problems with the same courage and conviction that he showed.”

Another student of his, R. Surendran, former director of Stanley Hospital's Institute of Surgical Gastroenterology and Liver Transplant, says Dr. Rangabashyam was a visionary. “When he started the surgical gastroenterology department, people said there was no need for a separate specialty. Even when he held an honorary position, he would stay in the hospital for long hours, guiding students,” Mr. Surendran said.

The funeral took place on Sunday evening. A condolence meeting has been organised on Monday noon at the seminar hall of Madras Medical College.

Prof NR is the legendary surgeon to whom I owe my life as he taught me the best surgery, ethics of best patients' care immaterial of their social or economical status, research and teaching all with full commitment. With out his teaching and motivation he imparted to us I wouldn't be what I am now.Having also worked in the divine Institution of Sree Ramana Surgical Clinic for five years I am one of the few privileged persons to know how ethically he was perfect in delivering care for his private patients.Not only him but also the whole family dedicated themselves to support him to deliver his excellent care to his patients and medical profession.The Lion King of Surgical Kingdom has left this world but his aura and teaching will rule the medical profession for decades to come.I wish his soul to rest in peace and pray to God to give the strength to his family to withstand his loss.

from:  Mr. S Selvakumar
Posted on: Jul 15, 2013 at 00:17 IST

I was senior to DR Ranga by one year in MMC.He was a "city" boy while we were from small town from way down south.I remember him as a tall handsome motorbike riding young man.To boot he was a cricket and tennis player. I followed his career from The Hindu and other periodicals over the yrs and felt proud.That one of our boys has made it to the very top. I am sad to see his passiing away.Danu Chellappa

from:  danu Chellappa
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 20:27 IST

Inspired me and many others by his pioneering work and dedication to gastrointestinal surgery. RIP

from:  Ramanand
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 18:35 IST

There are no proper words in English to describe NR. He was a person beyond description. I have not seen one doctor in my life time who would stick to medical ethics as much as he has done. I was his student when he was in Staley medicalcollege and never once he made me feel he was professor and i was his student . He was more than a friend than a teacher. How classy he was when ever he comes to the hospital. Students ,assistants and PGs lost count of his suits.

from:  Dr.Bashiruddin
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 17:52 IST

I am sad to hear that Dr. Rangabashyam has passed away. My father fell sick while travelling in a train near Chennai in the late seventies. He was rushed to the hospital and the doctors did not know what he was suffering from. My family was able to get in touch with Dr. Rangabashyam (who was a very busy individual even in those days) and he visited the hospital and indicated that my father was suffering from food poisoning. A surgery was immediately performed and my father's life was saved. I was about 10 years old. My condolences to the doctor's family.

from:  Hari
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 17:34 IST

RIP Dr. NR

from:  Mohamed Thoufeeq
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 16:57 IST

When I was a Medical Representative, I remember vividly how all the MR's will congregate at his place weekly once, may Tuesday, if I remember right to detail about their products. His prescription was a very valued one. If he prescribes then seeing that few dozen doctors will prescribe the medicines. Fine gentleman. Salute to you, Sir.

from:  Mahesh
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 16:05 IST

Dr NR was in Stanley before shifting to MMC?

from:  JMJ
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 14:46 IST

My father in law, T M Thirumalai Iyengar was successfully operated by Dr. RangaBashyam in the Tanjore Medical College in the 1960s. Dr. NR was a source of immense confidence to the patients he was always smiling and inspiring. I feel very sad that he is no moreSrinivasan, Ex. General Manager, Hindustan Photo Films, Ooty.

from:  R. Srinivasan
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 14:11 IST

I pay homage to this great man who inspired me to look at my profession differently to what was then the norm in India.Murali Kalyanasundaram

from:  Murali Kalyanasundaram
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 10:11 IST

It is with deep regret i read this news. NR as he is fondly called was apart from an emminent surgeon, was also an excellent teaher. I was his student in Thanjavur Medical College. He was noted for being xtrict, meticulous and d poise with which he carried himself. We the old students of Thanjavur Medical College pray for his soul to RIP.

from:  Swarnalatha Selvaraju
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 09:54 IST

Great Surgeon. RIP sir

from:  Karthik Maruthachalam
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 09:33 IST
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