Indian-origin father-daughter doctor duo die of COVID-19 in USA

Dr. Satyender Dev Khanna and Dr. Priya Khanna

An Indian-American father and daughter, both doctors in New Jersey, have died due to the COVID-19, with Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey describing their death as "particularly tough" and hailed them for dedicating their lives for others.

Satyender Dev Khanna, 78, was a surgeon who served both on staff and as the head of the surgical departments for multiple hospitals across New Jersey for decades. Dr. Satyender Dev Khanna passed away at the Clara Maass Medical Center where he had worked for more than 35 years.

Dr Priya Khanna, a nephrologist, and her father Dr Satyender Dev Khanna, a surgeon, died on April 13 and April 21 respectively after contracting the coronavirus. More than forty physicians have been felled by the pandemic in the US. Their deaths were publicly announced by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who praised the family’s dedication to health and medicine, and said his administration would "commit in their memory to saving as many lives as we can."

The tragedy underscores the danger from the virus to frontline healthcare warriors, some 25 per cent of whom are immigrants.

Priya Khanna, 43, was a double board certified in both internal medicine and nephrology.

She was Chief of Residents at Union Hospital, now part of RWJ Barnabas Health.

"Dr. Satyender Dev Khanna and Dr. Priya Khanna were father and daughter. They both dedicated their lives to helping others. This is a family which was dedicated to health and medicine. Our words cannot amply express our condolences," New Jersey Governor Murphy tweeted on Thursday.

"Both dedicated their lives to helping others and we lost both of them to COVID-19," Murphy said during a press conference, saying their demise is a "particularly tough one."

Murphy described him as a "pioneering doctor" who was one of the first surgeons to perform laparoscopic surgery in the state.

He is being remembered by colleagues as a "gentle and caring physician."

"And for a doctor, I'm not one, but I would bet, I don't think there could be a more fitting way to be remembered, or a nurse or a healthcare worker of any kind," Murphy said, adding that the doctor had a passion for bicycling, and he often found peace from the hustle of the hospital in biking along the Jersey Shore.

Priya did all of her medical training in New Jersey and then did her fellowship in nephrology in South Jersey with the Cooper Health System. Like her father, she too worked at Clara Maass, where she died.

The duo who come from a family of five doctors — were two of the state's recent coronavirus victims.  Dr. Priya Khanna, 43 was chief of residents at Union Hospital, and had trained the ICU doctor who had cared for her before she died at Clara Mass. Both physicians had been sick since the4 first week in April. Their doctors were urgently searching for plasma donors to treat them.

Murphy added, "His daughter, Dr. Priya Khanna, was double board certified in both internal medicine and nephrology, who proudly did all of her medical training right here in New Jersey. She was chief of residents at Union Hospital, now part of RWJ Barnabas Health, and then did her fellowship in nephrology in South Jersey with the Cooper Health System. And like her dad, she also worked at Clara Maass where she passed. She was medical director of two dialysis centers in Essex County, was a teaching attending, taking pride in teaching the next generation of doctors."

He added, "Priya will be remembered as a caring and selfless person who put others first and even while in the fighting her own battle, she continued to check up on her mom and dad and her family. She loved swimming, spending time at the shore, beaches generally, and traveling."

Satyender left behind his wife, Dr. Kamlish Khanna, a pediatrician, and Priya's two sisters, Dr. Sue Ganda Khanna, an emergency medicine physician, and Dr. Anisha Khanna, a pediatrician.

Murphy said, "We commit in their memory to saving as many lives as we can."

A Twitter account called COVID19 physicians has been chronicling the doctors who are battling the virus.