Field: Medical Science
Jhirad was born in Karnataka and belonged Bene Israel community, which traced its presence in India to the 12th century. She had four sisters and three brothers; the two older sisters were married early, while the younger sister Leah stayed home and took care of their ailing mother. It seems that only Jerusha, among the sisters, pursued higher education. One of the brothers, Solomon, also became a doctor and served in the railways. Her father after failing to manage the coffee plantation in Mysuru moved to Indian Railways and moved to North and Settled his family in Mumbai.
She was a bright student since her childhood and kept making her mark since her childhood. She had early education at the High School for Indian Girls, Poona, and won many scholarships. In her younger years, she learned Sanskrit instead of Hebrew as she could not afford to take tutions for the latter! She passed her matriculation after securing second place in the whole university and thereby winning scholarships that helped her to choose medical science as her field of study. When she saw her sister recover from a very serious illness miraculously, she had made up her mind to study medicine.hirad pursued her medical education, at the GMC, winning scholarships and prizes, and graduated, topping her class, with a licentiate of medicine and surgery (LMS) degree in 1912.After graduating, Jhirad set up private practice in general medicine, in Bombay, since residents’ posts were not available to women. Though her experience was less, but she found that women found it easier to discuss their problems with her with more ease and soon she became known.
Her aim was to get an MD degree from London, she did not have the required qualification, which was to be a medical officer at a hospital. She also found that scholarships for post-graduate study were open only to men at that time. she secured a loan scholarship, from the House of Tatas, for her MD in obstetrics and gynaecology at the London School of Medicine for Women (LSMW) which had been established in 1874. Six months into her stay there, she was awarded a scholarship, of 200 pounds per annum, for 5 years, by the Bombay Government, as a special case. This was in the year 1914 when the first world war broke out. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for her. This was because men were called upon to serve in the war and attend to casualties and this opened up opportunity for her to get admitted as an intern at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, London, where she worked for 2 years. Otherwise, it was men who were preferred and then there were British women who were called upon to take admission in general hospitals. Her work, here, was appreciated, and her supervisor, Miss Chadburn, permitted her to perform abdominal operations. Finally, in 1919, she secured her MD in obstetrics and gynaecology, being the first Indian woman to do so, and is mentioned among the notable graduates of the London School of Medicine for Women.
She returned back to India to serve her motherland and she was briefly an obstetrician at the Lady Hardinge Hospital in Delhi. From 1920 to 1924, she was appointed as the medical officer-in-charge at the maternity hospital in Bangalore. From 1925 to 1928 she was on the staff of the Cama Hospital in Mumbai, where she served as medical officer-in-charge from 1929 to 1947.
She maintained that there should be medical facilities and education exclusively for women, to make them more acceptable. She made commendable efforts to make women take up medical studies. During her tenure many posts were created to accommodate worthy women candidates. She worked tirelessly to tackle the maternal mortality at that time and also discovered. She found that women, particularly those in purdah, suffered from osteomalacia, due to the lack of exposure to the sun. This led to the softening of the bones of the legs and pelvis, and these women often had complicated deliveries. It took her a lot of toil to persuade women to go for C-section when at that time there was a lot of hesitation and the husbands did not allow their wives to go through this procedure.
During the earthquake in Bihar, in 1934, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, later the first President of independent India, contacted Jhirad for assistance in treating purdah women affected by the disaster.
She was chosen as a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1935 and was elected fellow in 1947. She was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1945 and was bestowed the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1966. The Jhirad Crater on Venus is named after Jerusha Jhirad.
My one-line take-away: A life that is meant to serve the greater good of humanity in any form, never loses its shine and will always illuminate the fire of inspiration for many.
PS: I have planned to take up non-fiction this year as my theme for the A2Z challenge, where every day in the month of April ( except Sundays) I will be writing about women in the stream of science and their contributions. Disclaimer -The information collected is from different sources available online.
The main objective is to draw inspiration and share information about such great lives who did it, despite all difficulties in their life.
I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z