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Late COVID warrior Dr P Shanmugapriya bestowed with Kalpana Chawla award

Dr P Shanmugapriya of Anuppanadi Urban Primary Health Centre was eight months pregnant when she succumbed to COVID-19.

Published: 16th August 2021 07:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th August 2021 07:10 AM   |  A+A-

Dr P Shanmugapriya, who posthumously received Kalpana Chawla Award

Dr P Shanmugapriya, who posthumously received Kalpana Chawla Award. (Photo| EPS)

Express News Service

MADURAI:  Recognition has come calling to Dr P Shanmugapriya (32) who was at the forefront in the battle against the pandemic as she has been posthumously honoured with Kalpana Chawla Award for courage and daring enterprise. 

The Medical Officer at Anuppanadi Urban Primary Health Centre (UPHC) was eight-months pregnant when she succumbed to COVID-19 on May 8. Her husband, S Shanmugaperumal, received the award from the Chief Minister MK Stalin during the 75th Independence Day celebrations held at Chennai on Sunday. 

Taking a trip down the memory lane about the love of his life, Shanmugaperumal who runs a pet store told The New Indian Express, "She was born at Odaipatti village in Theni district. We both were classmates from classes VI to X at a school in Chinnamanur. I dropped out of school after class X while she went on to study MBBS at Madurai Medical College. We were in touch occasionally through mutual friends. When we reconnected two years ago, we fell in love and got married in April 2019."

A resident of S Alangulam, Shanmugaperumal, was quick to add that Shanmugapriya was admired by all for her humility. "There was never an instance in which she would make one feel less worthy. She was kind to all," he said. 

P Sakkammal (31), the Urban Health Nurse (UHN) at Anuppanadi UPHC who worked closely with Dr Shanmugapriya recalled, "Her joy knew no bounds when she became pregnant. She told us all that her posting at the UPHC turned out to be a lucky charm. She kept saying that as she desired to spend more time with her newborn, she wanted to work until the later stage of her pregnancy."

A stubborn person she was, Shanmugapriya refused to stay away from COVID-19 duty and did not heed to the request of the family to stay indoors by availing medical leave or maternity leave, said the husband.

"She would never listen. To her, duty comes first. She persuaded us by telling us that she would be careful while on duty, by avoiding direct contact with patients. She made us believe that she did," Shanmugaperumal added. 

After working at the UPHC until April 30, Dr Shanmugapriya went on maternity leave from May 1. “However, she was hospitalised at a private medical college hospital on May 1 after she developed severe cough,” the husband said. 

She was tested positive for COVID and was later diagnosed with 70% lung infection. The doctor was later shifted to Government Rajaji Hospital where she continued to be in critical condition until she breathed her last on May 8. 

Sakkammal said that on her last working day at the UPHC, Shanmugapriya bid us good bye saying that the next time they all would meet her with her newborn. "It came as a shock that she was severely infected. We could not meet her at the hospital due to COVID restrictions and also because we had to be at work as the second wave peaked by then. She kept in touch through messages and calls. She was optimistic that she would recover soon," she said, adding that her demise is an irreplaceable loss. 

"We should have cared more for her," a guilt-ridden Sakkammal said. The husband said that patient care was her top priority. "Today, I stand with the award in my hand, aloof, without her, who meant the world to me," he signed off choking with grief. 

A happy married life cut short by pandemic

Taking a trip down the memory lane about the love of his life, Shanmugaperumal who runs a pet store told The New Indian Express, "She was born at Odaipatti village in Theni district. We both were classmates from classes VI to X at a school in Chinnamanur. I dropped out of school after class X while she went on to study MBBS at Madurai Medical College. We were in touch occasionally through mutual friends. When we reconnected two years ago, we fell in love and got married in April 2019."

Shanmugaperumal, was quick to add that Shanmugapriya was admired by all for her humility 



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