Noted ophthalmologist Dr Daljit Singh passed away at a private hospital on Wednesday. His wish to donate his eyes after death could not be fulfilled due to a cataract surgery performed on him. Dr Daljit Singh was a surgeon, teacher, researcher, activist, poet and later even a politician. His prominent patients included Giani Zail Singh and Chaudhary Devi Lal, Deputy Prime Minister and B N Pandey, Governor of Orissa.
He is also known for inventing ‘plasma scalpel’ for glaucoma and cataract surgery along with a renowned ophthalmologist Dr Fugo of the US. His hospital was also sought after by victims of pellet gun injuries in Jammu and Kashmir. Dr Daljit Singh was born on 11 October 1934 to Sahib Singh, who was a academic in the area of Sikh literature.
He graduated in medicine with MBBS from the Government Medical College, Amritsar in 1956. He then did his ophthalmic diploma (DOMS). For more than two years, Dr Singh worked as a general practitioner in the rural hinterland and later received his master’s degree (MS) in ophthalmology in 1963. He served as a member of faculty of the Government Medical colleges in Amritsar and Patiala for 23 years.
Dr Singh is known for his pioneering effort to introduce lens implants in the country in 1976. He is also known for inventing ‘plasma scalpel’ for glaucoma and cataract surgery along with a renowned ophthalmologist Dr Fugo of the US.
He was recipients of Awards Padma Shri (1987) and Dr B C Roy Award (1994). His two sons Dr Ravijit Singh and Dr Kiranjit Singh and daughters-in-law Dr Indu R Singh and Dr Seema Kiranjit were in his team of eye surgeons at Daljit Singh Eye Hospital.
His shot into limelight after restoring vision of 11 children who had lost their eyesight in LPG cylinder blast during the Independence Day celebration in Orissa in 1986. “He would spend his monthly pay to help his poor patients. His this passion with patients was also affecting economy of his home. But he would often pacify his wife Sawarn Kaur saying that all this would return in form of blessings. He couldn’t save enough to buy scooter for a long time and used cycle to visit Medical College for his job,” said his niece, Dr Harshinder Kaur.
In 2014, he unsuccessfully fought the Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar seat on AAP ticket. “As a writer, he was convinced that United States was responsible for all the problems of world. He wrote three books on this subject and then translated three books of other English writers into Punjabi on same subject,” said Gursagar Singh, a top executive of Singh Brothers that published all the 11 Punjabi books written by Dr Daljit. First three of these books were poetry.
“Recently he invited me and handed over me many hand written notes of his father, Professor Sahib Singh. He knew that he had few days left and he told me to preserve the work of his father,” said Gursagar. Dr Daljit had one day in a week reserved for poor patients at his hospital to provide them free treatment. His brief political innings saw his expulsion from AAP and then his joining the Congress party. Dr Daljit lost his wife to cancer and he himself was suffering from same the disease.
“I last spoke to him on November 27, a day before he became unconscious. And what he was discussing with me was an formula to end the debt of farmers of the state. He wanted me to come to him to understand this formula. He knew that he didn’t have much time and hence he wanted me to visit him immediately. Such was his love for his people. He was thinking about Punjab till his last breath,” said Harshinder Kaur.