Dr. Shantuben Patel was born on October 11, 1945, in Kenya. She completed her MBBS degree from Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal, India, in 1972. Afterward, she pursued further education and training in the United Kingdom. She completed her DCH (Diploma in Child Health) from the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians, London, in 1976 and her DTM&H (Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene) from the University of Liverpool, UK, in 1979.
In the late 1970s, Dr. Shantuben Patel decided to leave her successful career as a neonatologist at Queen’s Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. She chose to settle in Kutch, Gujarat.
Since 1979, Dr. Shantuben has been practicing as a pediatrician and neonatologist in Bhuj, Gujarat.
Two significant events occurred in 1981 that played a pivotal role in building trust and making an impact in her community:
The Somaiya Group organized a medical camp that spanned 15 days, during which they provided excellent total care to around 20,000 individuals, including children. This event highlighted the magnitude of health issues among handicapped children in the area.
The medical camp revealed that a considerable number of cases involved children affected by polio and birth injuries. These findings underscored the urgent need for specialized care and attention to address these health challenges.
Dr. Shantuben Patel’s dedication to providing healthcare and her decision to settle in Kutch, Gujarat, marked a significant turning point in her career and allowed her to make a lasting impact on the lives of children in the region.
She recognized that providing quality pediatric care at an earlier stage could have mitigated the severity of handicaps. In light of this realization, in 1981, with the support of the Kutchi Leva Patel Samaj, she organized a measles vaccination program for approximately 400 children from 28 villages.
This event marked a turning point in the life of Dr. Shantuben Patel, the managing trustee. The idea of establishing a trust had been lingering in her mind for years, but the enormity of the task and financial constraints had been hurdles.
In response to the pressing need for specialized care, she made the decision to establish her own hospital, an inclusive facility where any child could receive medical treatment. In 1994 and 1995, free educational and therapeutic camps were organized for challenged children, led by Prof. Madhuri Kulkarni and her team from Sion Hospital, Mumbai. In 1994, 110 challenged children attended the camp, and the number increased to 450 the following year.
In 1996, a school was initiated within one of the hospital rooms, initially accommodating three hearing-impaired children. Within three months, this number grew to 45, and by 2000, three different departments had been established:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Mentally Challenged
- Hearing Impaired
Dr. Shantuben Patel served as the managing trustee of Child Welfare School, Bhuj, since its inception in 1996.
She was nominated as an ‘India Inspired’ individual by Indian Oil and was recently recognized as an ‘Amazing Indian’ by the TV channels Times Now. She received the ‘Senior Citizen Award-2013’ from CNN-IBN Channel.
During her time in Bhuj, she became acquainted with Vipassana meditation and was appointed as an assistant Vipassana teacher in 2001. Throughout her service, she was highly regarded as a disciplined, caring, and compassionate teacher.
Dr. Shantuben Patel passed away on January 29, 2014, following a three-month battle with cancer. She is remembered for her vibrant personality, professional excellence, and unwavering dedication to selfless service and the betterment of humanity.
Her life was characterized by simplicity, discipline, a charismatic smile, and a great sense of humor. She remains in our hearts as an angel who left an indelible mark on each of our lives in a very special way.