Lives Lost: Family of doctors loses 2 shining lights

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This undated photo provided courtesy of Anisha Khanna, shows, from left, Anisha, Sughanda, Kamlesh, Satyender and Priya Khanna. The northern New Jersey family of five doctors has lost two members to COVID-19. Satyender Khanna, who died at 77, was a practicing surgeon for more than four decades. His daughter, Priya Khanna, who died at 43, specialized in the study of kidney diseases. (Courtesy of Anisha Khanna via AP)

NEW YORK – Priya Khanna may have been destined to practice medicine all along, and not necessarily because she grew up in a family of doctors.

The middle daughter of a surgeon and pediatrician who had immigrated from India and settled in northern New Jersey in the early 1970s, Khanna tested the waters in other fields before settling on the vocation that would define her adult life.

“She was a very kind person. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, and she couldn’t do a career that would require any sort of cutthroat attitude,” her younger sister, Anisha Khanna, recalled. “When she went through different career paths, I think she realized none of them fit her except for medicine.”

After contracting the coronavirus, Priya Khanna and her father, Satyender D. Khanna, both died days apart in April. They were down the hall from each other and in the same hospital where Priya had been born.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part of an ongoing series of stories remembering people who have died from coronavirus around the world.

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Along with three surviving family members who also became doctors, the Khannas touched an incalculable number of lives. Anisha Khanna and her mother, Kamlesh Khanna, operated a pediatric practice out of the family’s home in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, about 12 miles west of New York City. Eldest daughter Sughanda Khanna lives in Maryland and is an emergency-room physician, and Satyender Khanna was a practicing surgeon for more than four decades and was one of the first surgeons in New Jersey to perform laparoscopic surgery.