Year : 2023 | Volume
: 28 | Issue : 3 | Page : 185--186
Obituary of Prof. I. C. Pathak
Jai Kumar Mahajan
Department of Pediatric Surgery, Advanced Pediatric Centre, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
Jai Kumar Mahajan
Department of Pediatric Surgery, Advanced Pediatric Centre, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh
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Mahajan JK. Obituary of Prof. I. C. Pathak.J Indian Assoc Pediatr Surg 2023;28:185-186
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Mahajan JK. Obituary of Prof. I. C. Pathak. J Indian Assoc Pediatr Surg [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Sep 30 ];28:185-186
Available from: https://www.jiaps.com/text.asp?2023/28/3/185/375529
Prof. Iqbal Chand Pathak, former Director of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, and Professor Emeritus and founder chairman of the Department of Pediatric Surgery in the Institute, left for his heavenly abode on March 21, 2023. An eminent surgeon, a competent administrator, and a teacher to scores of surgeons spread worldwide, is no more.
Dr. Pathak was born in Sri Har Govind Pur, a small village in the undivided state of Punjab, on April 7, 1925. He did his MBBS and MS in General Surgery from Medical College, Amritsar, and was a meritorious student throughout. Following graduation, he was appointed a surgical registrar to the then doyen of surgery, Prof. S. S. Anand, at the Medical College Hospital, Amritsar. After working as a faculty for a few years, he was awarded the Colombo Plan Scholarship for training at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London, where he received higher training in Pediatric Surgery. He was brought to PGIMER, Chandigarh, by the Founder Director Dr. Anand, as an Assistant Professor in Surgery in 1962. Soon after, an independent Department of Pediatric Surgery was set up at the Institute, in June 1968, under his stewardship. This was one of the earliest departments of its kind to be established in India. He continued as Professor in Pediatric Surgery at PGIMER from 1968 to 1985. His numerous protégées went on to become teachers in future pediatric surgical centers, enhancing the surgical care for children across the length and breadth of the country.
In 1981, Dr. Pathak was appointed as the Director of PGIMER, Chandigarh, a post he held till his retirement in 1985. He was the President of the Association of Pediatric Surgeons of India from 1977 to 78. He had the honor to serve as the honorary surgeon to the President of India from 1983 to 85.
Dr. Pathak's writings and works have been published extensively in national and international journals. In 1972, he reported about the short colon variant of anorectal malformation for the first time from India, and in 1984, he proposed a classification of the types, suggesting that the anomaly be designated as “Pouch colon syndrome.” His papers on a variety of subjects such as esophageal atresia, choledochal cyst, intestinal atresia, intussusception, Hirschsprung's disease, ureteropelvic junction obstruction, exstrophy bladder, vesicoureteric reflux, and posterior urethral valves were path-guiding publications in those early years. He received the Senior Commonwealth fellowship, England, and the fellowship of the National Academy of Medical Sciences in 1975. He delivered numerous orations, including the Dr. Devi Chand Memorial, Col. Sangham Lal Memorial, Rohatgi Memorial, P. N. Chuttani Memorial, and T. N. A. Pai orations. He also received the R. K. Gandhi Gold Medal Award of the Indian Association of Pediatric Surgeons in 2006.
Dr. Pathak was elected as the Chairman and managing trustee of the Trilok Tirath Vidyawati Chhuttani Charitable Trust in 1996. At the age of 97, he continued to work happily, from 9 to 2, 6 days a week looking after the trust and its hospital, providing consultations to patients, and sharing his extensive expertise while helping others. Even a day before his eternal sleep, he was at the trust carrying out his usual activities.
Prof. Pathak was a great visionary and a true leader with the innate ability to connect with people at all levels, which was amply visible during his stint as the Director of PGI, Chandigarh, running it smoothly through the difficult days of insurgency in Punjab in 1984–85. He was a music lover and an avid collector of vocal and instrumental albums. His classic, sophisticated style was always impeccable, and which all wanted to emulate. He was a keen nature lover and loved the outdoors, never missing an opportunity to remain physically active.
He leaves behind not only a legacy of excellence in Pediatric Surgery but also an indelible mark on the numerous lives he touched. His contribution to the world of Medicine and Pediatric Surgery will never be forgotten. With his passing, Pediatric Surgery and the medical fraternity in India have lost a great visionary, a charismatic teacher, and a mentor. It is the end of an era.
We, the Indian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, convey our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family: his daughter Dr. Gita Mehta, son-in-law Dr. Ravi Mehta, and grandchildren Isha and Sachin Mehta.