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Lung India Official publication of Indian Chest Society  
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 357-358  

Jitendra Nath Pande (14.06.1941 -23.05.2020)

Chairman, PSRI, Institute of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, PSRI Hospital; Ex. Professor and Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission18-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance22-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication01-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Gopi C Khilnani
PSRI, Institute of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, PSRI Hospital; Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/lungindia.lungindia_502_20

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How to cite this article:
Khilnani GC. Jitendra Nath Pande (14.06.1941 -23.05.2020). Lung India 2020;37:357-8

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Khilnani GC. Jitendra Nath Pande (14.06.1941 -23.05.2020). Lung India [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Aug 6];37:357-8. Available from: http://www.lungindia.com/text.asp?2020/37/4/357/288752

On May 23, 2020, medical fraternity lost its Indian most eminent physician, pulmonologist, intensivist, epidemiologist, researcher, and a great human being Prof. Jitendra Nath Pande who left for heavenly abode in sleep after contracting COVID-19. As his student, who has learnt everything he knows from him, I feel privileged to write this obituary with a heavy heart and pride at the same time. I had the fortune of spending 12 years of learning under his guidance at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

Professor Pande was born on June 14, 1941, in Shikohabad, district Mainpuri, in Uttar Pradesh to a school teacher Late Shri Madan Mohan Pande (an English teacher) and Late Mrs. Kamla Devi Pande. He was seventh of the eight siblings in the family. He married Dr. Yvette Pande in 1971, a gynecologist, who did her postgraduation from AIIMS and is presently working as Senior Consultant at Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi. Their only child Aman is a Consultant in Pulmonary and Critical Care at prestigious Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, USA.

Professor Pande joined the premier institute of the country, AIIMS, New Delhi, in the year 1958 when he first time travelled to Delhi. His batchmates remember him as the brightest of bright minds, and he graduated at the top of his class in 1962 and perused MD Medicine to finish in the year 1966. He joined the Faculty of Medicine as Assistant Professor in the year 1970 and continued to climb the ladder to become professor in the year 1989 and took over as Head of the Department of Medicine in the year 1993 till he superannuation from that position on June 30, 2003. Subsequently, he worked as Senior Consultant at Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research, New Delhi, till his demise.

Dr. Pande completed a Commonwealth Fellowship at Hammersmith Hospital UK and did Fellowship in Epidemiology (the International Clinical Epidemiology Network) in the year 1988–1989 from Chapel Hill, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of North Carolina, USA. Before that, he went to Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, in the year 1979 to learn bronchoscopy, and the first fiber-optic bronchoscopy in India was performed by him only. He has the credit of bringing this technique to India which changed the practice of Pulmonary Medicine.

Professor Pande's academic career had many facets. He trained entire generations of undergraduate and postgraduate students, and all his students cherish his teachings. He had several research interests which included high-altitude physiology, lung mechanics in health and disease, exercise physiology, bronchiectasis, interstitial lung disease, and health effects of air pollution. His research paper on air pollution and emergency visits was a game changer which led the honorable court to order changes in fuel quality to compressed natural gas (CNG), driving small industries out of Delhi. His work on bronchiectasis has been quoted in Textbook of Respiratory Medicine by Crofton and Douglas. Subsequently, he edited a book titled “Respiratory Medicine in Tropics” published by Oxford University Press. He was extremely forward thinking and quick to learn new things. In 1991, when I joined him, he was a wizard on computer operations and was doing statistical analyses of which he was the master. I distinctly remember him spending a whole day reading a manual of bedside cardiac monitors (which were procured the first time in the department). So intelligent was his mind that he used to open the ABG machine to repair it himself.

As early as 1993, he thought that the Department of Medicine should have an intensive care unit and developed the same in the ward with crude transport ventilators with which he was able to provide expert ventilatory care. The combination of his clinical acumen and understanding of respiratory physiology and internal medicine made him top intensivist, and he was called to opine on all serious cases in various departments in and outside the institute.

Teaching was his passion. He would very happily take first class of young third-semester students “Introduction to Medicine” which his students cherished for all through their lives. He had great affection for undergraduate and postgraduate students who had liberty to see him any time they wished. He was ever so ready to take bedside class for both undergraduates and postgraduate students. No one can forget his clinical analysis of a case based on history and physical examination. Indeed, he was the greatest teacher and mentor.

His discipline needed to be seen to be believed. You could time your clock by his arrival in the department at 8 and outpatient department (OPD) at 8.30 am where he arrived after brief round of ward. He used to leave the department at 8 pm every day and always came on Sundays and holidays. Although he saw a large number of patients in OPD, he never kept attendant at the door or an assistant to work up the case. He would himself, with strict queue, call patients and take history and jot it down very clearly in detail for anybody to understand his thought process of diagnosis. His empathy for the “presidents, princes, and the poor” patients was the same. I remember saying many times “Patients are your best teachers.”

It was a “treat” to attend his ward rounds. His analysis of cases was unparalleled which was not restricted to respiratory medicine. Very frequently, he would come out with a clinical diagnosis which no one else in the unit would have thought of. I remember a 41-year-old woman with asthma on ventilator which I was unable to wean off and went seeking his opinion. He listened to me on the way, and as he reached the bedside, he lifted the patient's right upper limb and dropped it (to see the tone of the muscles) and said “She has critical illness polyneuropathy.” I must admit that I was shocked. Subsequently, the diagnosis was confirmed with electrophysiological studies. I could go on with innumerable instances where he surprised me with his clinical acumen and speed of thinking which was faster than a computer.

He had another quality which I must mention. Whenever I requested him to see a difficult case, he immediately started walking toward the patient and never postponed even by a few minutes. Although he was most sought for physician by all the VVIPs, anybody working in the institute, be it staff nurse, student, resident doctor, office workers, or faculty, could seek his opinion for themselves at any time. He never kept an appointment list and asked people to be there at 8.30 a.m. in the OPD to get his attention.

He was a founder fellow of National College of Chest Physicians and became a member of the American Thoracic Society in 1971. He served as an expert to several bodies in the government including ICMR. He was very actively involved in the investigation of Bhopal gas tragedy. He also served as Chief Editor of the Annals of the National Academy of Medical Sciences and was a reviewer for several prominent journals. Considering his achievements in the field of medicine, pulmonary medicine, and critical care medicine, he had very few awards as he was always “too proud” to apply or get himself nominated for any award. His love for AIIMS was extreme, and he used to hate anybody who brought down esteem of the institute by any act.

Professor Pande dedicated his life to practice, teaching and research in medicine. Besides being the best pulmonologist and intensivist, he was a “true internist” who was always eager to learn. He never postponed referring to a book or journal to look for any academic query and always found time to read.

Inspite of being such a great physician and head of Medicine at AIIMS, he led a very simple life. I almost never saw him wearing formal shoes and very occasionally a necktie. He could drive his car only from home to hospital (<½ km). I remember him saying that he has never been to a movie theater or a restaurant and not even once he availed Leave Travel Concession during his long service of 33 years.

Professor Pande's untimely and sudden demise is an irreparable loss of the medical fraternity. He imparted knowledge and wisdom and was a mentor to generations of doctors, and I can boast of being the most beneficiary of his blessings. He would be remembered as a person who always kept interest and dignity of medical profession above his needs and desires and served millions of suffering people from all strata of the society. From the core of my heart, I offer tribute to this great mentor who is indeed immortal because of his deeds. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family. I will miss him throughout my life.


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