Dr. Nilima Karamchandani Receives The 2015 Health Heroes Finalist Award

Urvashi Surti, Ph.D., O’Hara Township, PA

Congratulations! Dr. Nilima Karamchandani, MD, specializing in neonatology, was the finalist for the Lifetime Achievement Award for this year’s Health Care Heroes Award. In an event organized by the Pittsburgh Business Times with High Mark Blue Cross Blue Shield as the presenting sponsor and Allegheny Health Network as the event sponsor, Dr. Karamchandani received the honor on September 9, 2015, in their annual event at the Omni William Penn Hotel.

Dr. Nilima Karamchandani with the award after the ceremony.

Dr. Nilima Karamchandani with the award after the ceremony.

Dr. Karamchandani has spent her entire professional career ensuring that the most fragile new-born babies in western Pennsylvania have a fighting chance to live a normal, healthy life. As Chief of the Division of Neonatology and Medical Director for the Infant Apnea Center at West Penn Hospital for the past 37 years, Dr. Karamchandani has been a nationally recognized authority in neonatology, particularly in treating infant apnea and preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Under Dr. Karamchandi’s leadership, West Penn Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the leading referral center in western Pennsylvania for sick and premature newborns, now cares for more than 700 babies each year. At West Penn, she established one of the country’s first infant apnea centers and the developmental follow up program for premature infants.

As a founding board member of the Greater Pittsburgh SIDS Chapter, Dr. Karamchandani also served as president of the National Association of Apnea and the American Association of SIDS and Safe Sleep Programs. She has published numerous scientific papers on infant sleep apnea and risk for SIDS, while also helping lead clinical trials of new medications to treat deadly infections in infants.

Of her many accomplishments and contributions to neonatology medicine, Karamchandani cites her research with SIDS and development of educational programs to reduce the incidence of this devastating fatal condition as the most important. Among these initiatives was the national “back to sleep” campaign (now called the “Safe to Sleep” campaign) that is credited with significantly reducing SIDS deaths in America.

For her dedication and commitment, Dr. Karamchandani has received a long list of accolades and recognition over the years, including the city of Pittsburgh’s “Women in Medicine Achievement Award” in 2005, Celebrate & Share’s “Woman of Achievement in Medicine,” award, membership in the Guide to America’s Top Pediatricians by Consumer’s Research Council of America, and “Top Doctor in America” recognition by Consumers’ Guide to Top Doctors.

Nilima was a graduate of Seth G.S. Medical College and King Edward Memorial Hospital, affiliated with the Bombay University in India. As a daughter of an Indian Air Force officer, Nilima spent her childhood all over India. Her mother was a professor of English.

Nilima with her two patients, Becky Brindle in 1972 and her premature grand daughter 43 years later.

Nilima with her two patients, Becky Brindle in 1972 and her premature grand daughter 43 years later.

Karamchandani did her fellowship in neonatology at Magee Womens Hospital. She has also trained new generations of physicians and other healthcare professionals in neonatology and pediatrics, serving as a clinical assistant Professor of Pediatrics at both the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Temple University School of Medicine.

She lives in Fox Chapel with her husband Manu Badlani, PhD, a mechanical engineer. They have three sons and three grandchildren.

Decades ago, when we were looking for a pediatrician for our daughter, Dr. Nilima Karamchandani was our obvious choice. I had known her as a fellow student in Mumbai at St. Xavier’s College. In 1972, Dr. Karamchandani had already been in the local paper during her training for saving a prematurely born baby when others had given up. Karamchandani also delivered a normal baby for one of her patients decades ago, whose daughter had a premature delivery under Dr. Karamchandani’s care. See the picture of all three with Karamchandani.

Dr. Karamchandani retired this July. Her other interests include travel, embroidery and reading. She is also busy traveling to her sons and taking care of the grandchildren. The Karamchandanis are on the board of trustees of the Hindu-Jain temple. Nilima is at present the president of the Triveni International Club. ♦

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