Remembering Vishna Rasiah, Consultant Neonatologist, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital
Shree Vishna Rasiah.
Born Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 19/7/71
Died from COVID-19 pneumonitis - 23/4/20
It is hard to comprehend that it is a year since we lost Vish at the height of the COVID pandemic. His legacy lives on through the doctors and nurses that he trained and the families whose lives he touched.
Shree Vishna, Vish to everyone, was born in Kaula Lumpur, Malaysia and trained in Medicine in Adelaide, Australia qualifying in 1995. After graduating, he moved to South Yorkshire, training in Bradford and Sheffield before taking a fellowship at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney. He then returned to Sheffield to undertake further training in neonatology, before joining the research group at Birmingham Women's Hospital (BWH) where he investigated outcomes of babies with antenatally diagnosed congenital heart defects. He excelled in his research and rapidly and meticulously honed his clinical and echocardiography skills. After completing his CCT in Sheffield he was appointed as a consultant Neonatologist at BWH in 2007. He was passionate about neonatal cardiology and collaborated with the regional paediatric cardiologists to set up and develop a seamless pathway enabling the best service for babies born with serious heart defects.
He played a major role in the West Midlands Neonatal Network, becoming Guideline lead and subsequently the Clinical lead for the South West Midlands Neonatal Network (SWMNN). Under his leadership, Network units enhanced their collaborative working to ensure the right baby was cared for in the right place at the right time. He was instrumental in the development of bi-network neonatal guidelines across the whole of the West Midlands. He was the champion for the adoption of the Badgernet clinical information system across the network. In addition, he played a key role in the empowerment of Allied Health Professionals and support for Network education for the multidisciplinary group. He lent his enthusiasm and energy to the Libby Mae's Little Angels Charity to raise resources for purchase of medical equipment in Regional neonatal units.
Vish loved his work, nothing was ever too much trouble and he took the greatest pleasure in sharing his considerable talents with others.
He was the most exceptional and patient teacher, spending countless hours carefully explaining complex information in a way that was accessible to all. It was always his ambition that any trainee who was up for the challenge would learn the skill of echocardiography. There are many trainees and consultants who were taught to echo the ‘Rasiah way’ as he calmly stood watching, unhurriedly coaxing and gently guiding their hands a few millimetres in one direction or another to obtain the best views and carefully documenting the findings in his echo book with his beautiful handwriting. His passion for teaching, nurturing and championing those around him knew no bounds, selflessly giving his time to help others develop, whether teaching or supervising research, quality improvement projects and audits for trainees, students and nurses to present at meetings, publish papers and progress in their careers. He published widely, particularly in the field of neonatal cardiology.
Vish treated every baby and family as if they were his own. He fought tirelessly for what he believed was best for babies, improving not just their care but also the support of families during the often distressing hospital journey. He was a strong advocate for ethical decision making and as a member of the hospital ethics committee ensured that both professional and family views were carefully considered.
Vish loved to socialise, chat, joke, and reminisce. He really enjoyed getting people together to celebrate and recording all events with his trademark photographs to share with others on social media. His emotional humility, easy smile, infectious, mischievous chuckle, and immediate rapport were so endearing and bonded him with everyone he met.
He was very fond of nature and truly loved his food - Chinese and Malaysian were his favourites. Vish was an enthusiastic supporter of the BWH tradition of ‘Cake Thursday’ and shared with everyone through his photos - a sure way to raise team morale.
His wife Liza, herself a Paediatrician, and his daughter Katelyn are continuing to celebrate his life and are proud of his professional and personal achievements. As all who met him will know, Vish called everyone ‘Boss’ – it made people feel good and it was a sign of his natural modesty. He will always be the Boss to us and remembered as an amazing clinician, an exceptional teacher, a kind and compassionate human and a devoted husband and father.
Written by Anju Singh and Andrew Ewer