“Picture abhi baaki hai. The show must go on,” Padma Shri awardee Dr K K Aggarwal said in one of his last educational videos about Covid before adding that he too was suffering from the virus. “I have Covid pneumonia which is progressive. But even then, remember Raj Kapoor’s words ‘the show must go on’.”
Late Monday evening, Dr Aggarwal passed away at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences after a long battle with the virus.
The 62-year-old was a cardiologist, head of the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and former president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). He received the Dr BC Roy Award in 2005 and the Padma Shri in 2010.
Over the past year, Dr Aggarwal’s popularity grew as he frequently posted videos on social media platforms in which he answered Covid-related queries and held talks about various aspects of the disease and its management.
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A statement from his family said, “He was unwavering in his mission of making quality healthcare available to the masses especially the economically weaker sections. Even with the pandemic raging, he worked relentlessly to reach out to over 100 million people through his digital initiatives. His informational videos and educational programmes proved instrumental in saving a large number of lives from the viral infection.”
In one of his last Covid-related video shows on April 27, Dr Aggarwal came on screen wearing a surgical gown and announced that he was about to go out to get a CT scan done.
“I have taken three masks and a face shield. I will go now to get my CT scan done. All of you know that I have received two doses of the vaccine and I have got a classical breakthrough Covid,” he said at the start of a Facebook live video and then proceeded to answer Covid related queries of patients for the next 20 minutes before heading out for the scan.
After the procedure was done, Dr Aggarwal got back home and did another Facebook live session for three minutes in which he spoke about what was noticed in the CT scan.
“My CT scan is normal. Don’t be afraid of vaccination. It will ultimately prevent you against severe Covid,” he said.
His colleague and former director of HCFI Dr Uday Kakroo recalled what Dr Aggarwal’s idea was behind holding talks and posting videos on social media. “He would say that I have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish and now I want to give my knowledge back to people,” Dr Kakroo said.
He added that during the pandemic, he was able to reach out to a wide audience and was holding talks even after getting infected by the virus because “he had decided that he wanted to die while working”.
Dr Aggarwal had done his schooling in Delhi and completed his MBBS from Nagpur University. He joined Moolchand Hospital in Delhi in 1983 and became a consultant there after five months of residency.
His family members said he was renowned as a pioneer of streptokinase therapy for managing heart attacks and had introduced the colour doppler echocardiography technology in India.
His colleagues could not recall if he had any comorbidities, besides that he had suffered from a pulmonary embolism a few years ago and had recovered.
As per his colleagues, he had taken second Covid vaccine in February-March.
“He is gone, but his spirit of spreading positivity irrespective of the situation is something we all need to imbibe,” his family members said in a statement.
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