Dr Renganaden Sunassee (Renga) took his last dignified bow from life on 1 February 2022, during a short stay at La Clinique Mauricienne. It was somewhat fitting that he spent his last moments with his work family and colleagues who played such an enormous part in his life.
He was a doctor through and through: his consummate sense of duty and professionalism were the essence of his being. Over the years, his bedside manners morphed from that of a no-nonsense physician to a kindly, gentler fatherly figure. His patients loved him, and it gave him huge pleasure and satisfaction to watch new families being formed and in time, seeing babies he had delivered grow and become parents themselves.
Renga was the youngest son born to Kistnasamy and Armila Sunassee. He broke the family mould in his desire to pursue a career in medicine and found himself at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RSCI), Dublin. During his studies there, he acquired: a wife (Uma), two daughters (Vaishnavi and Geeta) and a car.
After graduating from RCSI, he returned to Mauritius to work briefly at the then Civil Hospital. He then went back to Ireland to the well-known Coombe Hospital to pursue his interest in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He moved to Hull (UK) as a houseman, under the guidance of (late) Mr Maden, for whom he had enormous respect. He soon made a very favourable impression and, in the words of Mr Maden: “turned out to be one of the best housemen that I have had for a long time”. He had a special talent for surgery. Later, he moved to Co. Limerick (Ireland), where he began his training as a Registrar at St Munchin’s Regional Maternity Hospital. This was a time of joy and stability. With the arrival of their son Avinash, he and Uma took great pleasure in raising their young family.
After obtaining his ‘Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology’ (MRCOG) qualification, Renga returned with his family to Mauritius in 1980.He brought with him newer surgical techniques at which he was particularly adept and would, whilst working in the government service, cover a significant volume of surgical procedures daily. He worked tirelessly and, in time, developed his own successful private practice. Over the years he worked at SSRN hospital, Civil Hospital and Victoria Hospital. In the early nineties, he was the president of the Government Medical and Dental Officers’ Association. He, with other colleagues, successfully led the resistance against attempts by the then government to remove the right to private practice of specialist government medical practitioners. He also served as president of the Private Medical Practitioners Association and on the Medical Council in Mauritius. He was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology (FRCOG) in 1995.
Evolving from a quiet and unassuming young man in his student days, to a more vocal and imposing person in his later years, he enjoyed writing articles in the press and speaking regularly on the radio, generously dispensing his wealth of medical knowledge and thoughts to his audience. He was also active professionally, through various associations, in promoting community projects and in helping the disadvantaged.
To his immense joy, Renga became a grandad, and he relished his role as ‘Grandpa’ to Priyanka, Rohan, Krishna, Rahul and Soham. As strict as he was as a father, he was as gentle and forbearing as a grandad. He was genuinely curious, amazed, and amused by this new generation and was deeply loved in return.
He leaves behind, with decades of fond memories, wife Uma, his son Avinash and family, daughters Vaishnavi and Geeta and family, his brother Sathiamoorthy and his sister-in-law Navini, sister Mohini Cuttaree and family, nieces Amanda Lam and Manjula Virapouillé and family, cousin Dr Vinod Sunassy and family and his whole extended family.
Last but not least, he leaves behind his work family: all the students, doctors, nurses, hospital staff and patients who deeply enriched his life and who journeyed with him in his cherished role as a doctor. He lived and loved in this lifetime as he had wished. As sung by Frank Sinatra, and in his own words, he did it “My way”.
* Published in print edition on 11 February 2022
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