My worst fears were confirmed when I switched the phone on this morning in London — Dr KK Aggarwal, my friend and doctor for over three decades had lost his battle against Covid. He was just 62.
My mind effortlessly recalls my long association with him. Whatsoever health problem one may have, he was always optimistic and his words were reassuring. His frank-yet-friendly and honest voice will continue to reverberate in my ears for a long time to come.
Dr KK Aggarwal passed away after a long battle with Covid-19. (Photo: Twitter)
My association with Dr Aggarwal is over three decades old. We have moved on with life, achieving milestones in our respective fields and evolving in the process. But our relationship, both as friends and the doctor-patient relationship, remained unchanged. It was the year 1990 (or 1991, I am not sure). I was around 40 years old and had been diagnosed with hypertension. I knew very little about this medical condition. Those days there was no Google for instant education either. I was looking for an expert to educate me on how to deal with the blood pressure (BP) issue, which was threatening my otherwise placid life.
I discussed it with my friend and a comrade in NUJ — the late Rajinder Prabhu. At his suggestion, we both went to Moolchand Khairati Ram Hospital in Delhi, where he introduced me to Dr Aggarwal, a young and energetic doctor with a streak of idealism. It was clear that he was not just a physician, but a lot more.
KK (as we called him) didn’t treat me only as a patient, but more as a friend. He explained what BP is and its implications in layman’s language. Over the years, I was both — his friend and a patient. We would often discuss new breakthroughs in health sciences, their pros and cons, and occasionally chat on politics and Hindu philosophy and traditions, as well.
My last interaction with him was in late March or early April this year, on FaceTime. Shashi and I had landed in London on March 19 and two days later, I developed Covid symptoms. At my daughter, Shweta’s initiative, a FaceTime meeting was set up with Dr Aggarwal.
As usual, after some friendly banter, Dr Aggarwal gave his professional advice. Look at destiny — almost all his Covid patients (including me) have recovered after following his advice, and he fell victim to this scourge.
No doubt, Dr Aggarwal was a good physician. But I will remember him as an excellent human being who was dedicated to his profession, steeped in Indian traditions, and was ever ready to reach out to those in need and distress.
When I met him for the first time in the early 1990s, Dr Aggarwal was a part of the Cardiology Department of Moolchand Hospital, which was then headed by legendary heart specialist Dr KL Chopra— the father of Dr Deepak Chopra, the US-based lifestyle guru. Dr Aggarwal was relatively new to Delhi and lived in the Lajpat Nagar area. He used to get completely engaged with his patients and their health issues.
What set Dr Aggarwal apart from other doctors? He never allowed the inquisitive and sensitive human in him to be overwhelmed by his degrees or the accolades that came his way. He never let the simple honest man in him be dominated by his status or multiple successes he achieved.
I have lost count of the number of patients I would have referred to him over the decades. He was always available and helpful. Most of the times, his consultation was pro-bono. Thank you, KK, for all you did for me and my many friends.
Dr Aggarwal had a scientific temper and was open-minded. He was not averse to new ideas. As a result, while practising allopathy, he sought answers to myriad health problems in Ayurveda and philosophy as well. In fact, these were common areas of interest between the two of us.
My heart goes to Dr Aggarwal’s family. However, Dr Aggarwal’s family is not confined to his wife, Dr Veena and their children. Dr Aggarwal’s family is spread all over the globe and includes even those countless people who watched his inspirational and educative videos and benefited from them.
My tearful and respectful homage to Dr Aggarwal. Goodbye, my friend. You will be missed by the thousands whose lives you saved and touched over the years.