He had been down with acute kidney ailment for about two years, requiring dialysis. But Bandyopadhyay continued to treat patients till he himself needed hospitalisation. Initially, he was treated at a private hospital in Durgapur, from where he was shifted to Kolkata in a critical condition recently. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, both doctors, too.
Condolences poured in for Bandyopadhyay, who had spent most of his life, taking care of the poor in his hometown in Bibhum’s Bolpur. “Dr Sushovan Bandyopadhyay epitomised the best of human spirit. He will be remembered as a kind and large-hearted person who cured many people. I recall my interaction with him at the Padma Awards ceremony. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers.
Om Shanti,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. “Sad to know of the demise of benevolent doctor Sushovan Bandyopadhyay. The famed one-rupee-doctor of Birbhum was known for his public-spirited philanthropy, and I express my sincerest condolences,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted.
The octogenarian, despite his advanced age and acute kidney ailment, the two factors that could turn Covid infection in him severe, refused to be “locked down” during the pandemic. Bandyopadhyay kept his clinic open in the pandemic and continued to tend to his patients with the same compassion as he did when he had just returned from the UK as a young doctor almost 60 years ago.
He treated numerous patients, who came with Covid symptoms, and sent them for testing. Those testing positive were referred to state hospitals.
An MBBS graduate from RG Kar Medical College and a gold medalist in pathology from Calcutta University, Bandyopadhyay could have settled down in London, where he worked as a senior registrar at a hospital after completing his diploma in haematology.
But he returned to his roots in 1963 and opened his clinic. Bandyopadhyay’s aim was to ensure no one-even the poorest of the poor-was denied healthcare and treatment. But at the same time, he did not want to make his patients feel obliged to him for his services. So, he decided to charge them Re 1. He continued with his “Re-1 visit” till the end.
The Centre bestowed the Padma Shri on him in 2020. His name was put up in Guinness World Records for treating the maximum number of patients.
Bandyopadhyay had also dabbled in politics, being elected as an MLA from Bolpur in 1984 on a Congress ticket. He later joined Trinamool and became its district president. He later resigned from the party. He was a member of the executive council at Visva-Bharati as a President of India nominee.