Renowned senior Oncologist and Chairwoman of the Adyar Cancer Institute Dr V Shantha breathed her last in the early hours of this morning. She was 94.
Following a complaint of chest pain and discomfort, the veteran oncologist Shantha was taken to a private hospital in Chennai where Doctors unsuccessfully tried to remove a block in her blood vessel. Her body was placed at the Cancer Institute’s old building in Gandhi Nagar where she had joined as a resident medical officer 65 years ago. She along with her mentor Dr S. Krishnamoorthy, son of Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy – one of the first woman graduates of Medicine in Bharat and a legislator and studied in the US, built the super speciality medical institution exclusively for cancer patients.
Dr Shantha was born on March 11, 1927, in Chennai, to a family of two Nobel laureates in Physics (C V Raman and S Chandrasekhar). She completed her schooling from National Girls High School and pursued medicine as her career. After her graduation from Chennai Presidency college, she enrolled for MBBS at the prestigious Madras Medical College. She completed MBBS in 1940 and DGO in 1952 and MD in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1955. At a time when women were not allowed to study and there was a little knowledge on Cancer treatments in Bharat, she broke the glass ceiling by taking up medicine.
In 1955, Muthulakshmi Reddy MD, the first women medical graduate of Bharat, along with Women’s India Association founded a first Cancer Institute in the Southern states and Dr Shantha soon joined the institute as the Medical officer. After three years, she moved into the Cancer Institute and became a part of it from April 13, 1955. Dr Shantha stayed in a small room at the institute, offered quality and affordable cancer treatment accessible to all patients and dedicated herself to the care of cancer patients. She was actively involved in research about cancer and spread awareness in Bharat. She was a member of several national and international committees on Health and won awards including Ramon Magsaysay and Padma Vibhushan.
Dr Shantha also ran an NGO, Avvai Home for orphan girls and aided institution attached to the Home in Adyar. Besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Telangana Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundrarajan, Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Dr C Vijayabaskar, political leaders and medical fraternity have expressed condolences on social media on hearing the demise of Dr Shantha. She was responsible for making a cottage hospital of 12 beds to major comprehensive cancer Centre of International repute.
Paying tribute to the departed soul, Prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Dr V Shanta will be remembered for her outstanding efforts to ensure top-quality cancer care. The Cancer Institute at Adyar, Chennai is at the forefront of serving the poor and downtrodden. I recall my visit to the Institute in 2018. Saddened by Dr V Shanta’s demise. Om Shanti.”