Recipient of Padma Shri (2010), National President of the Indian Medical Association (2016-17), Dr. BC Roy National Award (2005), National Science Communication Award and Vishwa Hindi Samman (2015) awards, Krishan Kumar Aggarwal belonged to the class of 1975.
A Consultant Cardiologist, President of Heart Care Foundation of India, and the Honorary Secretary-General of the Medical Council of India, Krishan was gifted with a multifaceted and dynamic personality. His pursuit of excellence continued in the roles of physician-scientist, academic teacher, writer, editor, administrator, and public health activist.
Gold Medallist and Nagpur University topper throughout a medical career, Krishan obtained MD (Medicine) from MGIMS in 1983. During his MD at Sevagram, he was deputed for six- weeks of training at the AIIMS Immunology department. Dr. AN Malviya, the head of the Immunology Department wrote in his testimonial, "I found Dr. Krishan Kumar to be an extremely bright, enthusiastic, and hardworking physician, who has a very keen sense of clinical research. I also found him to be compassionate towards his patients. I feel that with his clear thinking, enthusiasm for hard and honest work, and perseverance, he should become one of the top physicians in India. “These words were indeed prophetic, for in the four decades since, Krishan had achieved much more than his master expected him to perform.
After obtaining MD, he joined Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi where he served as a senior consultant, Physician, Cardiologist, and Dean, Board of Medical Education. The first to use clot busters in patients with acute myocardial infarction (1984), he introduced colour Doppler echocardiography in North India in 1987.
Group Editor-in-chief of IJCP Group of Publications and emedinews- the first national daily medical newspaper, Krishan was well known for the several roles he played: a compulsive writer, an eloquent columnist, and a much sought-after TV anchor. Krishan championed the cause of medical professionals, fought for human rights, defended medical ethics, and was keenly interested in revamping medical education in India.
He used alternative medicine—Yoga and Ayurveda—to treat his patients with diabetes and cardiac problems and believed that if we have to stop the Juggernaut of lifestyle disorders, we need to focus on primary prevention. He was also a Limca Book of World Record Holder for the maximum number of people trained in the life-saving technique of Hands-only CPR.
Krishan was the fourth postgraduate student to obtain MD (Medicine) from MGIMS. Greatly influenced by Dr. Khatri, the legendary cardiologist from PGI Chandigarh who served as professor of Medicine at MGIMS in the late seventies—Krishan developed a fascination for clinical medicine. He would work almost 24/7 in the medicine wards of the old Kasturba Hospital, Sevagram, trying to unwrap mystery from complex medical maladies.
Recalled Krishan of his MGIMS days, “MGIMS taught me how doctors diagnosed illness using their own senses, by poking, prodding, looking, listening. From these observations, a skilled doctor can make amazingly accurate inferences about what ails the patient. MGIMS taught me how to use meaningfully such investigations as echocardiography, stress tests, and cardiac catheterization for patients with cardiac disorders. I realized that the full ritual of history and physical examination was necessary to establish that connection between tradition and technology. Those skills have stood me in good stead, all my life, and I am ever indebted to MGIMS and teachers for making me what I am.”
Krishan’s persona, his incredible charisma and life story makes interesting reading- starting from his serene childhood in Delhi and continuing through his admission to MGIMS, his residency days in the hospital wards, his falling in love with research during medical school, and his ascent to the summit of cardiology to become the legend that he is, the undisputed “king” of this discipline.
As the Covid pandemic hit the country, Krishan hugely contributed to dispelling myths associated with the spread and treatment of COVID-19 infection in society. He knew perfectly well how to use social media and YouTube to mass educate people. In his daily talks on Covid19, he would often cite the CNN coronavirus ad “In a time of uncertainty, facts provide clarity. In a time of anxiety, facts comfort. In a time of misinformation, facts correct. In a time of division, facts unite. In a time of crisis, facts matter most.” to explain the importance of science and evidence in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic
Krishan passed away on 17 May 2021- after fighting a protracted battle with Covid at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences. As destiny would have it, Covid education had filled the last year of his life- he had spent hundreds of hours teaching, educating, counseling, and training people and physicians, nationwide.
Krishan inspired the lives of so many. He will be deeply missed. The MGIMS family mourns the demise of one of its most distinguished alumni. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.