Tributes to surgeon who died of Covid just months after retiring
- Credit: The Ratnakumar Family
A much-loved knee surgeon, who was a mentor to many over his 39 years working for the NHS, died on Tuesday - just months after he retired.
Kandiah Ratnakumar worked at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, first as a junior doctor at King George Hospital in 1985 before becoming a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon at the Old Church Hospital in 2001.
"Ratna Boss", as he was affectionately called by his colleagues, died aged 69, after contracting coronavirus in December, soon after he returned to work to help out with a backlog of surgeries due to the pandemic.
He devoted his life to his wife Dr Saro Ratnakumar, an anesthesiologist who he met at university in Sri Lanka, where they were both from originally.
The pair would often work together on the same surgeries until she retired two years ago.
Mr Ratnakumar retired in February 2020 and was able to take just one trip to visit family in New Zealand before the first lockdown hit and was only able to return home after travel restrictions were eased.
Colleague Shivakumar Shankar said of his old boss: "He was a great surgeon, colleague, friend, mentor and a very decent human being.
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"He was adored by all and leaves a huge hole in the hearts of his family and friends. He will be dearly missed."
Mr Ratnakumar was a specialist in knee and hip replacement surgery and also performed numerous complex sports knee injury operations.
In his spare time, he was an avid golfer and whiskey connoisseur with a cheeky sense of humour.
His nephew Skanda Sriskanthan-Reksa said: "He was a very conscientious and forgiving person who always tried to see the best in people.
"He was inseparable from his wife and they both devoted their lives to the NHS."
Skanda recalls seeing his uncle rush out in the middle of the night to help patients whenever he got a phone call and would never relegate that to a junior doctor.
Mr Ratnakumar first got sick on December 11 but he started to recover and took care of Saro when she fell ill as well, but then he took a turn for the worse.
Skanda could only talk to his aunt and uncle through the window and he said it took eight hours for the ambulance to arrive on December 23.
After a week at Whipps Cross Hospital, he was transferred to the ITU where he was put on a ventilator and was dead three weeks later, less than a year after his retirement party.
There are at least 225 frontline health and care workers who have been identified after dying with coronavirus throughout the country.