Chairperson of Cancer Institute and senior oncologist Dr V Shanta, who championed cancer care in the country, passed away in the early hours of Tuesday. She passed away due to breathing complications at the age of 94. Dr Shanta had complained of difficulty in breathing and discomfort and was rushed to Apollo Hospital in Chennai. However, as the doctors were attempting to remove a block in the blood vessel, she passed away at 3.55 am on Tuesday.
A name synonymous with cancer care, Dr Shanta made treatment for cancer affordable for all the patients. To honour her and her contributions to the field of medicine, the Tamil Nadu government will conduct her final rites with police honours. Her body is currently kept at the old building of the Cancer Institute in Adyar for people to pay their respects.
Dr Shanta was born on March 11, 1927, in Chennai to a family of two Nobel laureates in Physics â€” Sir CV Raman and S Chandrasekhar. Dr Shanta is the grandniece of CV Raman. She completed her school education at National Girls High School and decided to take up medicine as a career. She pursued her degree from Presidency College in Chennai and enrolled for MBBS at Madras Medical College. She completed MBBS in 1940, DGO in 1952 and MD in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1955.
In the early 1940s, Dr Shanta had highlighted in multiple interviews on how women were not allowed to pursue a career and there was only a little knowledge on cancer treatments in the country.
In 1954, Muthulakshmi Reddy, MD, the first woman medical graduate of India along with Women's India Association founded a first cancer centre â€” Cancer Institute â€” in the southern states and Dr Shanta soon joined the institute as the medical officer. After three years, she moved into the Cancer Institute and has been at the Institute since April 13, 1955.
From being a resident doctor to the Chairperson, Dr Shanta was the force behind steering Adyar Cancer Institute to its current glory, championing the cause of cancer care in India and inspiring generations to be dedicated and faithful to their profession.
Remarking her death as the "end of a legend", several doctors, members of the medical fraternity as well as politicians have expressed condolences.
Dr V Mohan, Chairman and Chief Diabetologist at Dr Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre, wrote, â€śEnd of a legend. One of Indiaâ€™s greatest doctors, the legendary Dr V Shantha was truly an inspiration to generations of doctors. Her contributions will be remembered forever. May her soul attain Shanthi.â€ť
Recounting Dr V Shanta's contribution, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, "Forever in service of the poor and needy, she lived in a room within the hospital premises, with the singular mission of cancer cure. A saint, no longer among us.â€ť
I am shocked abt the sudden demise of Padma Vibhushan #DrShanta, Chairperson of #CancerInstitute, #Adyar. Her 67 years of service for cancer crusade & compassion to patients is phenomenal. She will live in our hearts & remain to be an inspiration to the fraternity. RIP madam! pic.twitter.com/AdRNNa2g1Bâ€” Dr C Vijayabaskar (@Vijayabaskarofl) January 19, 2021
Some of the major impact of late Dr. V. Shanta Cancer Institute Chennai in Cancer Care in India include.â€” Venkatraman Radhakrishnan (Venky) (@venkymd) January 19, 2021
1. Duty exemption for cancer drugs
2. Free travel for cancer patients in trains and buses.
3. Making cancer a notifiable disease in TN.
4. First cobalt machine in India.
Om shanti. She also started pediatric oncology as a speciality in India and helped significantly in progress of the specialty. The first pediatric oncology unit in India was established in Cancer Institute in 1960. She was the first pediatric oncologist in India.@WorldSIOP https://t.co/ZkDVk9YS67â€” Venkatraman Radhakrishnan (Venky) (@venkymd) January 19, 2021
#RIP Dr Shanta Doyen of #cancer care. Mortals pass but their work lives on forever. Recipient of the Magsaysay Award, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, & Padma Vibhushan, beyond that recipient of love n blessings & wishes of the countless many she touched. @cspramesh @CI_WIA @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/TIg8kxKJVBâ€” Anand Raja (@anandoncologist) January 19, 2021