Smile Train staff around the world mourn the loss of our longtime dedicated partner Dr. Jyotsna Murthy, who passed away February 16.
We had the honor and privilege of working with Dr. Murthy since 2001, when she signed an agreement to make Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre (SRMC) the second Smile Train partner in India. Through tireless work, Dr. Murthy and her collogues turned SRMC into one of the largest cleft surgical providers in the world. Then, Dr. Murthy led the charge to integrate speech therapy, orthodontics, and nutritional support programs, to ensure that every child at SRMC would receive the best opportunity to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
Her efforts were so outstanding, that Dr. Murthy was flown to Baltimore, USA to receive Smile Train’s Hero Award in 2007. Dr. Murthy became an international leader in the field of cleft lip and palate research, having published 40 papers on the topic and presenting at conferences around the world.
In 2015, Dr. Murthy was diagnosed with cancer and started chemotherapy. Smile Train staff invited some of her former SRMC patients to an event and more than 500 filled the hall to celebrate the woman who’d changed their lives and to offer their support.
In her time as a partner, Dr. Murthy provided 7,000+ Smile Train supported cleft surgeries and changed the lives of countless more by passing on her skills and knowledge to cleft specialists across India. One of her collogues at SRMC mentioned, that even with her extensive experience, she would often change to new methods and techniques to improve her results — she was always learning.
Smile Train’s Vice President and Regional Director of South Asia, Mamta Carroll said of Dr. Murthy, “Her impact on India and the global cleft community is not to be understated, but she was also an equally great person. Dr. Murthy was sensitive, compassionate, and a warm person who was great at forging relationships built on empathy, genuine concern, and a desire to help. I treasure every moment I had with her.”
Dr. Murthy will be missed, but her legacy will always live on in the smiles of the faces of thousands of children she helped and in the hearts of everyone who was fortunate enough to know her. Her unwavering passion, commitment, and dedication to children with clefts was unmatched.