Lives of the fellows

Sorab Barjor Karani

b.21 February 1910 d.9 August 1980
MB BS Bombay(1934) MRCP(1937) DPH Eng(1939) FRCP(1963)

Sorab Barjor Karani was the son of Barjor Phiroz Karani, a respected medical practitioner in Bombay, India, and the professor of biology at the Grant Medical College in that city. At the turn of the century, it was a tradition in the Parsi race - a tiny minority community, originating from the ancient Iranian empire - for sons to follow their medical fathers. Sorab Karani, not only inherited the compassion, wisdom and monitorial qualities of his father, but also, from his mother’s side, inherited the supreme quality of a physician-charity. His mother was the grand-daughter of Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, Bt (the first Indian to be made a baronet), who endowed and founded the Sir JJ Hospital in Bombay; which even today, 140 years later, reigns supreme as the premier teaching hospital of the Indian sub-continent.

He schooled at the famous St Xavier’s High School in Bombay, and then graduated from the Grant Medical College. He completed his house posts at the hospital founded by his great-grandfather, the Sir JJ Hospital, from 1934 to 1935.

After two years at the Middlesex Hospital in London, he was admitted to the MRCP in 1937. He then joined the LCC as an assistant medical officer, having taken his DPH in 1939.

With the outbreak of war, he served with the RAMC as a specialist physician in Nigeria, Middle East and then in Europe, and was the first Indian to rise to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the RAMC.

In 1946, he was appointed senior resident physician at St Nicholas Hospital, London, and two years later was appointed consultant physician both at St Nicholas Hospital and also at Brook Green Hospital.

His breadth of interest in general medicine was expressed in the papers he wrote - hyperparathyroidism, Kartagener’s syndrome, Behcet’s disease, sarcoidosis, hypertension.

An ardent cricketer, he became in his later non-playing years a fount of wisdom on cricketing lore and knowledge. He was a keen stamp collector. From his forefathers and his Parsi origin, he had an innate love for horse racing, which he always treated as a great sport, and never as a ‘gamble’.

In April 1943 he married Mary Brown Snow Macrae, daughter of Finlay Macrae, and he had two daughters and one son.

He gave his all to his practice of medicine, and became a highly sought after consultant by the local general practitioners. He used to love to teach and was proud of the young men and women who used to approach him for bedside training. There was rarely a Comitia at the College, when his old students and apprentices were to be admitted to the membership or the fellowship, when he would not be there, beaming his usual sunny and paternal smile. This was, probably, how he would have liked to be remembered -humility to the science and compassion in the art of medicine, charity to all, and a love for his students.

RB Khambatta

[, 1980, 281, 815, 1294]

(Volume VII, page 309)

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