Dr Sachint Lal, OAM: Australia Day Honours 2024

For service to tertiary education, and to the community.

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Dr Sachint Lal has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to tertiary education and the community.

Dr Lal is best known as the founder of Hawkesbury Clinical School at the University of Notre Dame, around 57 kilometres northwest of the Sydney CBD. He also headed the school between 2008 and 2022.

Sadly, Dr Lal died on 7 October last year from complications of leukaemia. He was 88 years old.

His son, Wollongong-based psychiatrist Dr Sharat Lal, said he is sad his father is not alive to receive the OAM. 

“He would have been very proud and honoured to receive a medal in his adopted homeland,” Sharat told Indian Link.

“We’re very proud of him.”

Dr Lal was born and raised in the small ancient town of Patna, which sprawls along the south bank of the Ganges River in the northeastern Indian state of Bihar.

He came 22nd in the state in his matriculation exams before completing his MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) in 1959. He later went on to obtain a Master of Surgery in 1965.

Dr Sachint Lal at Hawkesbury Clinical School at Notre Dame University
Dr Sachint Lal at Hawkesbury Clinical School at Notre Dame University (Supplied)

After graduating, Dr Lal moved to the United Kingdom in 1968 to achieve the prestigious Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1973.

At the time, it was common for Indian doctors to go to the UK for further training.

“But then, it was difficult for Indian doctors to get specialist positions in the UK. So, that inspired the move to Australia,” Sharat said. 

In 1977, Dr Sachint Lal and his family relocated down under.

“It was tough, but my father’s sister was here, which made the move easier. No one regretted it. We’ve very much enjoyed living in Australia. It’s been home for a long time,” Sharat said.

“Professionally, it was difficult to establish himself at first. Then, the best thing that happened for him and the hospital was to be appointed as a surgeon at Hawkesbury District Health Service, where his clinical school was based, in 1986.”

After more than 20 years as a distinguished specialist surgeon in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region, Dr Lal established the Hawkesbury Clinical School in 2005.

He built the foundation for the successful delivery of teaching to many cohorts of students by developing relationships with local clinicians and healthcare professionals, according to his former colleague and friend Dr Grant Shalaby, who nominated him for the OAM.

Dr Sachint Lal with colleagues
Dr Sachint Lal with colleagues (Supplied)

“Having personally witnessed those student journeys since the inception of the school, the universal admiration and respect that Sachint commanded from colleagues and students is a legacy that those who follow will struggle to emulate,” Dr Shalaby said.

A cardiologist, Dr Shalaby is one of two people who have taken over Dr Lal’s former role as Head of Hawkesbury Clinical School. 

Dr Shalaby said his dear friend will be remembered fondly.

“As an esteemed clinical mentor for both junior doctors and medical students, Professor Lal was not just a professional of immense stature, but a beloved teacher and mentor who inspired generations,” said Dr Shalaby.

“His distinguished service to the hospital, community and university stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment to healing and education.”

Dr Lal was also an active Rotarian for many years, serving as the President of the Penrith Valley Rotary Club between 1989 to 1990. 

In 1993, he was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS).

Despite his remarkable career and service to the community, Sharat said he is most proud of his father for his generosity. 

Dr Sachint Lal with family
Dr Sachint Lal with family (Supplied)

“Almost everyone we talked to after he passed away said he helped them so much in one way or another,” Sharat said.

“We are most proud of how he was always willing to help everybody around him, and that extended to his teaching, colleagues and students.”

Sharat said his father will also be remembered for his love of life.

“He was enthusiastic in everything he did. He loved to travel, see family, and spend time with his children, grandchildren and young kids. He was a big talker, very social and gregarious. He loved to talk to everybody…”

Dr Sachint Lal leaves behind his wife Neru, three children and beloved grandchildren.

“Professor Lal’s legacy and spirit will forever live on in the countless lives he touched,” Dr Shalaby said.

“He will be deeply missed, and this legacy of compassion and knowledge will continue to inspire us all.”

READ ALSO: Dr Ramananda Kamath, OAM: Australia Day Honours 2024

Nadine Silva
Nadine Silva
Nadine Silva is the Assistant Editor of Indian Link.

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