09 May 2024  |   04:32am IST

An Angel from Goa - Professor Dr Elvira Dias

From 1970 to 1990, Professor Dr Elvira Dias worked as Consultant and Teaching Faculty in Obstetrics & Gynecology in various levels of Professorship at the Goa Medical College for twenty years until she attained retirement age. On her one month death anniversary, her student DR NADIA RANGEL PINTO remembers late ‘Madam Dias’ for her intellectual integrity and universal compassion
An Angel from Goa - Professor Dr Elvira Dias

Team Cafe

Her colleagues called Professor Dr Elvira Dias ‘An Angel from Goa’, in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Ob-Gyn) Department at the Rodolf Virchow Krankenhous (Hospital) in Berlin, West Germany, where she worked in the early 1960s. A medical professor with a beautiful combination of intellect and heart. Privileged to have the opportunity till her ninth decade, to us, she was lovingly called Madam Dias.

Elvira de Souza was born in Nairobi, Africa and was the eldest of five siblings. She studied Medicine in Bombay (now Mumbai) at the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital qualifying for the MBBS Degree, followed by her post graduation at LT Medical College and Sion Hospital where she qualified for the MD Degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Young Elvira, immigrated to West Germany and married her college sweetheart neurosurgeon Dr Manuel Dias there on August 15, 1962. Dr Manuel Dias worked at the Rodolf Virchow Krankenhous and Dr.Elvira (now Dias) also began working there almost immediately. Their sons, Victor and Luis, were born in Germany. They returned to Goa in the early 1970s and Goa was honoured to have its angel back. Truly she was, for over half a century since. 

She spent decades after that, working as Consultant and Teaching Faculty in Obstetrics and Gynecology in various levels of Professorship at the Goa Medical College. Whatever hierarchy in position she occupied, she worked with the same whole heartedness, dedication and simplicity. The Ob-Gyn department was initially at Ribandar Hospital. With faculty like Madam Dias, our classes and clinical postings at Goa Medical College were memorable. Besides her academic and clinical work, surgeries included, Madam Elvira Dias conducted so many deliveries. Some doctors, now consultants at the Goa Medical College, were babies delivered by her gifted hands.

Her motherly touch in all she did, added to the comfort of all she met. Her joy in the achievements of her children and grandchildren helped her age more gracefully I gathered, each time we talked. I remind my children that God sent an angel Madam Dias at their births too. Hers was the first face they saw in the warm homely atmosphere of Dr Raikar’s nursing home where she practiced post retirement. Grateful to her loving daughter-in-law Chryselle for preserving my antenatal card. I will treasure Madam Dias’ handwritten clinical notes.

She once narrated an incident when she was a consultant in Ob-Gyn at Goa Medical College Panjim and Ribandar hospitals. During on call duty, the hospital jeep would be sent to pick up the consultant whose opinion was sought. The jeep had a characteristic sound and could be identified from afar. One night much before the break of dawn when all was silent, Madam Dias heard the jeep. But she was not on call that night. Rushing to her first floor balcony, she heard her name ‘Elvira’ called out a couple of times (in the era of no mobile phones), till she realized the jeep had indeed come to her home. 

As she looked out again, there, was the Head of Department of Pediatrics with the hospital driver. The Professor of Pediatrics, Dr Mazumdar had just attended an emergency call at the Panjim GMC hospital and needed to save a baby. The baby desperately needed blood. That blood group was in short supply at the hospital. He remembered Madam Dias had been a donor before and personally requested her help. She readily went to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, not as a consultant but as a Good Samaritan angel. She was not on call, it was not even for a family member, but every life mattered. The baby’s life was saved that night after her donated blood was transfused. This was an amazing example of senior consultants, heading departments, empathy to the core. A message to that child, “Baby of that day, wherever you are, you are surely around 50 years now. You may never know who saved your life but I hope you will believe that angels exist.”

On October 19 this year, her 92nd birthday, she will be dearly missed, but heaven must surely be happier. We are assured “There is no death,The star goes down to rise upon some fairer shore.

Bright in heaven’s jeweled crown to shine forever more.”

Dear Madam, you will always be remembered as an angel who walked this earth. Thank you is my best prayer.

(Dr Nadia Rangel Pinto served as faculty of Preventive Medicine at Goa Medical College for over 20 years.)


Idhar Udhar