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India's first woman nephrologist, Dr V N Acharya, passes away at 76

Dr V N Acharya was suffering from infective endocarditis, for which she underwent an operation at the Hinduja Hospital; she succumbed to the infection on Monday

On Monday afternoon, the country lost its first woman nephrologist, Dr V N Acharya, after she fought hard for her life in the ICU of Hinduja Hospital for several days. The 76-year-old doctor was suffering from infective endocarditis (IE), for which she underwent an operation in the Mahim hospital.

Dr V N Acharya with Dr Bharat Shah at an event organised by an NGO
Dr V N Acharya with Dr Bharat Shah at an event organised by an NGO

Following this, her condition eventually began to deteriorate and she succumbed to the infection at around 3.30 pm. Her funeral was held in Shivaji Park at 9.30 am yesterday, where nephrology students from all over the country came to pay their respects. Her former students and colleagues said that they would always treasure the fond of memories of training under her.

“We respectfully referred to her as ‘madam’ and she was one of the most popular teachers in the field of medicine. Despite her failing health in the last few years, she made the effort to attend all conferences, and even challenged the young presenters with questions and her point of views,” said Dr Jatin Kothari, a senior nephrologist.

A pioneer
Dr N K Hase, the current head of the Nephrology department at the civic-run KEM Hospital in Parel, said she was a revolutionary researcher who had her work published in numerous journals and books. “I have known her for 20 years since I started working in Sion Hospital. She was an excellent doctor and having worked with her so closely, I attended her funeral. It is through her efforts that dialysis was first introduced in western Maharashtra.”

Dr Bharat Shah, director of The Institute of Renal Sciences at Global Hospital, Parel, reminisces the good times he spent with his mentor. He said, “I knew Dr Acharya for almost 40 years, as I was trained under her during my MBBS course, post graduation and then as a super specialty student.”

“She was an excellent mentor. She was also a friend, philosopher and guide for me, and an inspiring force due to her dedication to medicine. I remember when I was unwell and when I was a student in KEM Hospital, she provided great moral support and gave me time to recuperate,” he recollected. Shah said, “We are going to have a condolence meet on Sunday in the Parel hospital, which will be attended by all her students.”

Miracle worker
A pioneer in the field of nephrology, Dr Acharya was the first to introduce dialysis and transplantation facilities in civic-run KEM Hospital in Parel, where she was the head of the department.

Born on January 8, 1938, she was an undergraduate and then a postgraduate student at the Parel hospital. She was the founder of the Indian Society of Nephrology and Transplantations, and retired as the HOD from KEM around 18 years ago.

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