In Memoriam_Prof Laxman Singh Arya

On August 19th, 2012, Professor Laxman Singh Arya, remembered as one of the pioneers of pediatric oncology in India, succumbed to chronic cardiomyopathy. He came from Madhya Pradesh in central India. He graduated from medical school in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh in 1969. He completed his diploma in Child Health in 1972 and his doctorate in medicine in Pediatrics in 1974. In 1975, he joined the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi which is the premier medical institute in India. Initially, he worked as a registrar in pediatrics. In 1979, he became a faculty member at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, Kabul and in 1984 he joined the AIIMS’ Department of Pediatrics where he worked until his retirement in 2004. After his retirement, he continued to work as a senior consultant in Pediatric Oncology at the Apollo Indraprastha Hospitals in New Delhi.

During his tenure at AIIMS, he initiated the pediatric oncology program within the Department of Pediatrics at a time when cancer care in India was still in its infancy. With his efforts, he brought hope and saved many lives of children suffering from cancer. He collaborated with Dr Ian Magrath who was then at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), USA to initiate a multi-center protocol for children suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) which later became the standard protocol for the treatment of ALL in many major centers in India. The collaboration in the treatment of ALL continued when INCTR was established. Besides leukemia, he had several research projects on Hodgkin’s lymphoma, retinoblastoma, and Langerhans cell Histiocytosis. He published more than 200 articles in national and international peer-reviewed journals.

He was a member of many professional societies including the International Society of Pediatric Oncology (SIOP) and its committee devoted to pediatric oncology in developing countries (PODC), the International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parents Organization (ICCPO), INCTR, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the International Histiocyte Society, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, the Indian Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion and the Indian Society of Medical and Pediatric Oncology.

In addition to his professional responsibilities at AIIMS, he held many major positions within the societies to which he belonged. He was the President of the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Chapter of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics on two occasions. He organized many major national and international conferences. To name a few, he organized the “International Symposium on Pediatric Oncology” sponsored by SIOP in 1994 in New Delhi and the 2nd SIOP – ASIA Conference in New Delhi in 2002 which was inaugurated by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Shri L K Advani.

Besides being a pioneer of pediatric oncology, he is remembered as an excellent teacher and an astute general pediatrician with exceptional clinical acumen. He was a humble and humane individual who always wanted good for others. He was extremely soft-spoken and always smiling. Professor LS Arya’s contribution to pediatric oncology and his many fine qualities as a human being are unforgettable. In fact, at the present time, many practicing pediatric oncologists in India were his students, and thus, his influence continues to live on through his students’ efforts to care for children with cancer in India.

He is survived by his wife, Pratima Thakur Arya who is currently teaching in the Delhi Administration School. His eldest son, Rigved Thakur is an engineer, his daughter, Kashish is an architect and his younger daughter, Sonalika is currently pursuing her career at the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

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