Sympathies are pouring in for a prominent and beloved neurosurgeon and his wife who were killed in a plane crash on Father's Day.
Viswanathan Rajaraman, M.D. and his wife, Mary J. Sundaram were returning home from their daughter's graduation at Georgetown University, when they stopped in Columbus, Ohio to refuel their 2008 Cirrus CR22 plane. Upon take off, shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday, the plane caught fire and crashed east of the runway at Rickenbacker International Airport. The couple was pronounced dead at the scene.
"This is a terrible loss," a patient of the popular neuro-oncologist told Patch. "Dr. Raj was a great doctor and really connected with his patients."
"He took the time to explain a diagnosis and the recommended treatment to me in layman's terms that I could understand," she said. "He was also just a genuinely nice person. I could tell he really cared about you and wanted the best outcome possible for all of his patients."
His office displayed his love of his family, with photos of his wife and daughter proudly displayed around the room, she said.
Dr. Raj was Chief of Neurooncology at the Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center and headed Neurooncology at Valley Hospital, in Ridgewood. He earned his medical degree from University of Madras, India.
Sundaram was also a doctor who left her obstetrician practice after having their daughter, Kaavya Viswanathan (who took her father's first name as her last name, as is customary in some Indian families.)
The family moved to the U.K., where Dr. Raj practiced neurosurgery in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, before moving to the United States in 1994 for a fellowship at the Christ Hospital and Mayfield Neurological Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“Dr. Rajaraman was a joyful person who was always willing to collaborate, to conduct research and to write journal articles,” said John M. Tew, Jr., MD, a Mayfield neurosurgeon who was Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery during Dr. Rajaraman’s fellowship. “He came to us as a fully trained neurosurgeon, and he was a fine contributor to our program during the 18 months he was here. We followed his career with great interest and pride.”
“Vishy’s energy, enthusiasm and affability were infectious, and his positive spirit served us all,” added Jeffrey T. Keller, PhD, Director of the Goodyear Microsurgery Laboratory and Associate Director of the Neurosurgery Residency Training Program at UC. “He was a kind person, even under duress.”
Rajaraman also served as Chief Resident at North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University and at University Hospital, at UMDNJ, Newark, before getting a fellowship in surgical Neurooncology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, according to North Jersey Brain & Spine.
The couple is survived by their only child. Viswanathan, who reportedly earned her law degree this weekend, declined media interviews upon the news of her parents' accident. As of Monday morning, funeral arrangements had not been announced.
This article was updated from its original publication late Monday night.