Delhi’s top gynaecologist, with Ganga Ram hospital for 58 years, dies of Covid-19

Renowned gynaecologist Dr S K Bhandari (86), among the pioneers in the field in the country, breathed her last around 2 pm on Thursday at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) where she worked for nearly 58 years. She was admitted due to heart failure but was then diagnosed with Covid-19.

SGRH Medical Director D S Rana said she had delivered several prominent personalities including Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi and her children. She was also close to BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi.

She was the one who established the gynaecology and obstetrics department of the hospital and even though she was not an IVF specialist, she encouraged doctors in setting up the facility at the hospital, Rana said.

“She was a very famous name in gynaecology; among the pioneer gynaecologists in the country. She joined SGRH in 1962 and worked here for nearly 58 years. When I had joined SGRH in the 1980s, there were only two big names in gynaecology. One was Dr Sheela Mehra who passed away, and the other was her. She was an Emeritus Consultant, and was working till almost six months back. Last year, she had a mild heart attack but she continued to work. However, in the last one-two months, her heart issues were creating a problem,” said Dr Rana.

“Recently, she was admitted for heart failure but then she was found to be Covid positive. This worsened her heart and kidney disease. She was admitted for the last two weeks. Her husband J S Bhandari, a retired IAS officer and Former Secretary, Government of India, is also admitted with Covid pneumonia. He is 97 years old,” said Dr Rana, adding that both were fully vaccinated. Bhandari had received her second dose sometime in February.

Rana said her only daughter, who is also a doctor, was also diagnosed with the virus.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi fondly remembered Bhandari in a tweet. “Dr S K Bhandari, Emeritus Consultant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, who delivered my brother, me, my son and my daughter, passed away today. Even in her late 70s, she would drive early morning to the hospital herself. A leader to the end, she upheld every noble trait of humanity. A woman I will always respect and admire, a friend I will always miss,” she tweeted.

Dr Abha Majumdar, director and head of IVF at the Ganga Ram Hospital, said there was an unsaid bond between them. “We hardly had to say anything to each other. She was like a mother figure and she was the one who helped me realise my calling,” she told PTI.

Dr Majumdar had joined the hospital in February, 1987 and was taking care of the free infertility OPD on Thursdays. After almost a year, Dr Bhandari, who was the head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, asked her about her interest area and she said it was infertility treatment. She encouraged us to explore the field, she recalled.

(with PTI inputs)