Covid-19 Claims Another Hero: Dr Padmavati, Godmother of Cardiology, Worked 12 Hrs a Day at 98


Covid-19 Claims Another Hero: Dr Padmavati, Godmother of Cardiology, Worked 12 Hrs a Day at 98

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

The coronavirus has claimed thousands of lives since it was first discovered to have reached India in February. This weekend, it was responsible for the loss of one of India’s most celebrated doctors, the noted cardiologist Dr S I Padmavati.Dr Padmavati, who is often referred to as the “Godmother of Cardiology”, had been undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at the National Health Institute for 11 days before the doctors pronounced her dead on Saturday. She was 103 years old.

Remembered fondly as a pioneer in a field that not too many women were able to join at the time, Dr Padmavati was born in Myanmar in 1917, when it was called Burma. She fled to India following the Japanese invasion of the country during World War II.

After studying in the UK, the US, and Sweden, Dr Padmavati returned to India in the 1950s and soon became a woman of many firsts — setting up the country’s first cardiology clinic and catheter laboratory, the first Indian medical school-based cardiology department and the All India Heart Foundation.

For her groundbreaking work, Dr Padmavati was the recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 1967 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1992. In her long and illustrious career, she has also been honoured with the Harvard Medical International Award, among others.

Dr Padmavati has also contributed over 300 research articles in the field of preventive cardiovascular medicine. In just a few years during the ’60s, she went from being a lecturer at Lady Hardinge Medical College to becoming the Professor of Medicine at the institute, to being appointed the Director-Principal of Maulana Azad Medical College, where she went on to set up the cardiology department.

At the National Heart Institute, where the doctor breathed her last this weekend, she is said to have worked 12 hours a day, five days a week, all the way up until 2015, when she was 98 years old. Fellow doctors fondly remembered her as an active person, who swam well into her 90s, and played tennis for almost all her life.

For all these reasons and more, Dr Padmavati’s long and fulfilling life is sure to serve as inspiration for every aspiring doctor in the country.