Eminent surgical gastroenterologist, surgeon and teacher, N. Rangabashyam, died peacefully in his sleep in his home in the city, 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 — that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the colon, rectum, and anus — in India, and was respected by many in his profession as a senior colleague, knowledgeable teacher, guide and an inspiration for many young students of medicine. Feted for his achievements by reputed institutions across the world, Dr. Rangabashyam began his illustrious career with a brief stint in general surgery at Thanjavur and later, joined Tamil Nadu’s premier institutions, Madras Medical College, where he was appointed Professor of Gastroenterology 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 M.Ch. (Surgical Gastroenterology) degree course in India.

Many more firsts

He is a claimant to many more firsts: ostomy department at MMC, enterostomal therapy diploma for nurses. He was 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.