Many residents of Chennai are in a deep state of mourning after Dr S Jayachandran, the famous ‘₹5 doctor,’ passed away earlier today after suffering from a brief illness.
The compassionate doctor from North Chennai, whose clinic-cum-house on Venkatachalam Street in Old Washermenpet was open to all sections of society, passed away at the age of 71.
In the course of his 43-year-long career, Dr Jayachandran, who was an alumnus of Madras Medical College, treated patients either for free or a token sum of Rs 5. Besides charging his patients virtually nothing, locals say that he would often pay for their medicines from his own pocket.
Speaking to a national daily, Vinoth, a former patient who credits Dr Jayachandran with saving his life when he was just seven, talked about the valuable services he offered to those who didn’t have the means to access quality healthcare.
“I was brought here to him in an unconscious state. But in the evening, I walked back. I brought my daughter as a 6-day-old infant when she vomited blood, and he saved her too,” said Vinoth.
Another resident and a long-time friend of the doctor told the publication that Dr Jayachandran would arrange rickshaws for elderly patients if they had no means of transport. “He would even give them money to buy footwear if they were diabetic or had any foot injury,” he recalled.
“I have a principle to not force people to pay the money. I take money only if they willingly give it. If they don’t, I don’t ask for it at all,” Dr Jayachandran once said.
While Dr Jayachandran treated people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, his stellar reputation resulted in even the wealthy seeking him out. They would often pay him in the thousands, but he insisted on acquiring a fee in the form of medicines. According to reports, the medicine he would receive from the rich would go to those who couldn’t afford it.
“I did not want to commercialise what I learnt. I am running this clinic without any caste, creed, or religious differences. The thing I love the most in the world is being a doctor. The happiness and satisfaction one receives while saving a life cannot be compared to anything else in the world,” he once said, according to a news website.
Dr Jayachandran leaves behind a wife, who is also a doctor, and three children. His last rites will be conducted tomorrow in Chennai.