Dossibai Patell

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Dossibai Patell

Dossibai Patell.jpg
Dossibai Patell, c. 1912.[1]
Dossibai Rustomji Cowasji Patell

(1881-10-16)16 October 1881
Navsara Chambers, Fort Bombay
Died4 February 1960(1960-02-04) (aged 78)
EducationGrant Medical College
Known forFirst woman to become Member of the RCS in 1910
Medical career
Sub-SpecialtiesObstetrics and gynaecology

Dossibai Rustomji Cowasji Patell MBE (16 October 1881 – 4 February 1960), later known as Dossibai Jehangir Ratenshaw Dadabhoy, was an Indian obstetrician and gynaecologist, who in 1910 became the first woman to become a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS).

After completing initial medical training in India, she spent six years in London studying for the MRCS (Eng), the LRCP, the MRCP and then an MD.

Upon return to India, she established a career in obstetrics and gynaecology, advocated maternal and child welfare centres and petitioned for reducing infant mortality. In this role, she became active in a variety of societies, becoming the president of first the Bombay Obstetric and Gynaecological Society and later of the Association of Medical Women in India.

The Dossibai J. R. Dadabhoy oration is given in her memory.

Early life[edit]

Dossibai Patell was born on 16 October 1881 to a wealthy Parsi family[2] and attended Miss Moos School for Girls in Bombay (now Mumbai).[3]

Patell came from Navsara Chambers, Fort Bombay, India.[4] In 1903, she completed her medical training at Grant Medical College, Bombay,[3] from where she gained her Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery.[5] She then assisted Sir Temulji Nariman and Dr. Masina in Bombay before persuading her parents to allow her to study abroad.[2]

Life in London[edit]

Patell spent four years studying at the Royal Free Hospital in London[5] and in May 1910, became the first woman to become a member (MRCS) of the Royal College of Surgeons,[1][6] four years after women were allowed to sit the MRCS exam.[7] In the same year she became the first woman licentiate (LRCP) of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).[8][9][10] In 1911 she became a member of the RCP,[11] three years after women were permitted to sit its exam and one year after Ivy Evelyn Woodward became the first woman member of the college.[12][13]

She completed her Doctor of Medicine (MD) at the The London School of Tropical Medicine in 1912,[14] the first Indian woman to do so.[15]


Dossibai Patell amidst a group at the London School of Tropical Medicine, c. 1912[1]
Cama Hospital

Upon return to India in 1912, as Dossibai Jehangir Ratenshaw Dadabhoy[14][16][17] she began a career in obstetrics and gynaecology, taking a particular interest in gynaecological malignancies. As a result, she was the first person in India to purchase, possess[3] and distribute radium.[2]

In 1924, she presented a paper on infant mortality, stating her opinion that more than two thirds of infant deaths were preventable and petitioned for reducing these fatalities. She also considered maternal mortality and advocated supervision throughout pregnancy and childbirth and the forming of maternal and child welfare centres.[18]

During the Second World War, she served in the Bombay Branch of the Red Cross Society.[3] She was made MBE on 1 January 1941.[19][20]

She co-founded the Bombay Obstetric and Gynaecological Society, becoming its honorary joint secretary and later its president. She worked to establish other such societies across India which came together to form the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India, of which she also became president.[3]

In 1955, she presided over the eighth All India Obstetrics and Gynaecological Congress. As president of the Association of Medical Women in India between 1937–1947, she served on the Bhore Committee between 1942 and 1946, dealing with health development.[2][3]

She was also honorary consulting surgeon at the Cama and lbless Hospitals.[20]

Death and legacy[edit]

She died on 4 February 1960.[3] An oration is given in her memory, some of the past orators being:

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "International Women's Day 2016". Royal College of Surgeons. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Chapter VIII Contribution of Women Physicians to Women's Health Care (PDF). 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Dossibai J. R. Dadabhoy". The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of India. 50. October 2000.
  4. ^ "Full text of "A list of the fellows, members, extra-licentiates and licentiates of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 1859-[1986]"". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b Murray, Janet Horowitz; Stark, Myra (2017). The Englishwoman's Review of Social and Industrial Questions: 1909-1910. Routledge. ISBN 9781315394923.
  6. ^ "Welcome to Malaysia's Premier Dental School | Faculty of Dentistry". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  7. ^ "History of the RCS — Royal College of Surgeons". Royal College of Surgeons. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  8. ^ Gifford, Zerbanoo (1991-03-01). The golden thread: Asian experiences of post-Raj Britain. Pandora Press. ISBN 9780044406051.
  9. ^ Chemist and Druggist. Benn Brothers. 1911.
  10. ^ O'Sullivan, Suzanne (September 2018). "Women in medicine: deeds not words". The Lancet. 392 (10152): 1002–1003. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32256-6. ISSN 0140-6736.(subscription required)
  11. ^ "Admitted Members of the College". British Medical Journal. 1 (2627): 1090. 1911-05-06. ISSN 0007-1447. PMC 2333432.
  12. ^ "Past | MRCPUK". Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  13. ^ Royal College of Physicians of London (1859). A list of the fellows, members, extra-licentiates and licentiates of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 1859-[1986]. London Royal College of Physicians. London : Royal College of Physicians of London.
  14. ^ a b "Index of Graduates by Surname: D | British History Online". Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  15. ^ Division, Publications (1935). Women of India. Publications Division Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. ISBN 9788123022840.
  16. ^ Clark, Sir George Norman; Cooke, A. M. (1972). A history of the Royal College of Physicians of London. Clarendon Press for the Royal College of Physicians.
  17. ^ "The Medical Register: Untraceable Practitioners". The British Medical Journal. 2 (3690): 188–191. 1931. JSTOR 25340841.(subscription required)
  18. ^ Ramanna, Mridula (2002). Western Medicine and Public Health in Colonial Bombay, 1845-1895. Orient Longmann. p. 204. ISBN 978-81-250-2302-9.
  19. ^ London His Majesty’s Stationery Office. The India Office And Burma Office List 1945.
  20. ^ a b "The Indian Honours List" (PDF). The Indian Medical Gazette: 116. February 1941.
  21. ^ "Paul Devroey Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  22. ^ Purandare, C. N.; Patel, Madhuri A.; Balsarkar, Geetha (June 2012). "Indian Contribution to Obstetrics and Gynecology". Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of India. 62 (3): 266–267. doi:10.1007/s13224-012-0270-5. ISSN 0971-9202. PMC 3444562. PMID 23730027.
  23. ^ "Linda Cardozo Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). 2004.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]