NEW DELHI: One of the longest serving doctors at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here and renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr S K Bhandari died on Thursday due to COVID-19 related complications, officials said.
Dr Bhandari, who delivered Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her two children, was 86.
She was admitted to the hospital two weeks back for some heart-related issues but tested positive for COVID-19, said Dr D S Rana, chairman of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
He said that the virus worsened her health issues and she passed away at 2 pm on Thursday.
Dr Bhandari had received both the doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, he added.
Her husband, a retired IAS officer, aged 97, is also in the ICU after he tested positive for COVID-19 and he has not been informed about his wife''s death, he said.
In a series of tweets, Priyanka Gandhi condoled the demise of the senior doctor.
"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 seventies, she would drive early morning to the hospital herself. A leader to the end, she upheld every noble trait of humanity. As a woman I will always respect and admire, a friend I will always miss," she posted on Twitter.
Rana said Bhandari had served the hospital for 58 years.
She had joined the hospital after returning to Delhi from London where she did her post-graduation.
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 coming to the hospital during the first wave of the pandemic but stopped coming after she developed heart-related issues.
She was offering consultation from her home.
"When I came to Delhi 30-40 years ago, there were only two renowned gyanaecologists in Delhi -- Dr S K Bhandari and Dr Sheila Mehra of Moolchand Medcity. She was like a mother figure to me and the loss is quite huge," he said.
Dr Bhandari has a daughter, who is also a doctor, and was taking care of her ailing parents.
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. I always knew she was there to support me and she knew that I was heading towards my goal. 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 Obstetriics and Gynaecology Department, asked her about her area of interest and she said it was infertility treatment.
She encouraged us to explore the field, she recalled.
"She had the vision. When she learnt I was interested in infertility treatment, she said that you will have to put your whole and soul into it and you won''t be taking up general gynae cases. I was advised by so many other obstetrics and gynaecologists that how will you mange your bread and butter doing IVF? I give my full credit to Dr Bhandari because she pushed me," she said.
She was so proud and there was a oration on her mother''s birth anniversary in Ranchi.
She asked me to give a lecture there and it was proud moment "for me".
"I went to the COVID ward to see her. Though she never taught me, but she was always proud. She never said it in so many words but she always made me that she chose the right person for the job. She was a mother figure for a lot of people," she added.
"She was sure that I won't let her down," she recalled.
Her husband Dr JS Bhandari had also received the two doses of vaccine.
Her daughter had also contracted the virus.