Colossus of cancer care, Dr Shanta dies aged 93; cremated with 'police honours'

·3-min read

(Eds: Updates with cremation) Chennai, Jan 19 (PTI) Chairperson of the city-based Cancer Institute Dr V Shanta, who made outstanding contribution to cancer care for for over six decades, died of heart attack early Tuesday, the institute said.

Shanta, 93, complained of chest pain and was rushed to a hospital where she died during treatment after an angiogram revealed blocks in her arteries, an official of the institute, with which she was associated with since 1955.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in condoling the death of the veteran, a recipient of various coveted honours, including the Padma awards and the Magsaysay Award.

Tamil Nadu government accorded 'police honours' during the funeral to honour the selfless service of Shanta, who hailed from a family of Nobel laureates, Sir C V Raman and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

'Dr Shanta was experiencing chest pain and we took her to a hospital last night. Angiogram procedure was done and we were told that she has blocks. During the treatment, she suffered a heart attack and died at 3.35 am,' an official of the institute told PTI.

Hundreds of people, including health care workers of the institute, paid their last respects to Shanta as her body was kept for homage at the institute in Adyar locality in the heart of the city.

Later, her body was taken in a huge procession and cremated with 'police honours' at Besant Nagar.

The Cancer Institute (Womens' Indian Association-WIA) is a public charitable voluntary institute dedicated to the care of cancer.

Along with Dr S Krishnamurthi, son of Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy, the first woman in the country to graduate in medicine in 1912, Shanta played a pivotal role in developing the Cancer Institute from a cottage hospital of 12 beds to a major comprehensive centre of national and international stature.

The institute is popular among the people for its cancer care for the poor.

Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, and leaders of all political parties including DMK president M K Stalin, condoled her death besides healthcare professionals and the public.

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.' Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit said he was shocked and grieved by her death.He lauded her unparalleled commitment and dedication to cancer patients and the Cancer Institute.

'Her demise is an irreparable loss to the people of Tamil Nadu and particularly to the medical fraternity and poor cancer patients,' Purohit said.

Palaniswami said Shanta earned a place in the hearts of people not only in the state but across the country through her selfless services.

'Dr Shanta's death is a huge, irreparable loss to healthcare and Tamil Nadu,' Palaniswami said recalling late Chief Minster J Jayalalithaa had honoured her with 'Avvaiyar' Award for her services.

Stalin showered praise on Dr Shanta saying she worked all her life for providing quality cancer care for the poor, ordinary, and all other sections of the society.

Her stellar work won her a string of awards from both within the country and abroad.

She was on the World Health Organisation's Advisory Committee on cancer till March 2005.

According to the institute's website, Dr Shanta joined it in April 1955, a fledgling hospital at that time, as its resident medical officer.

She graduated (M.B.B.S.) in 1949, completed D.G.O. in 1952 and M.D, in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1955.

Dr Reddy, as president of the WIA, initiated the Cancer Relief Fund which led to the setting up of the hospital that draws patients from various parts of the country. PTI VGN VIJ VS VS