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Hemant Kairam, MD, FAAP, devoted father, husband, son, and brother, beloved pediatrician, medical professor, global health worker passed away suddenly at the age of 50 on Sunday, November 29, 2020 at his home in Summit NJ. He is survived by his wife Dr. Neeraja Kairam, 49, and their three children, Arin, 19, Devin, 17, and Elina, 14.
Hemant was born in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh India on July 25, 1970 to Rajbhushan and Bala Kairam. He spent the first three years of his life in Hyderabad, India. Hemant spoke his parents mother tongue, Telegu, had wild, curly black hair, big wide and curious eyes and spent the days playing with his cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents who spoiled the eldest grandson in the family. In 1973, Raj, Bala and Hemant migrated to the US. They were the first of the Kairam and Gudivaka families to immigrate to the US and spent the next four years in Illinois. Hemant attended Head Start and made fast friends with the kids in his pre-school and amongst the community Raj and Bala developed. After a two-year stint in Houston, the family made its way to Pelham, NY in 1978 as one of the first Indian families in town and welcomed their second son, Jayant, in 1981. Pelham would become Raj and Bala’s permanent home in the US and the place where they brought in and supported all the many relatives who followed them to the US. Over the years, Raj and Bala built a tremendous, tight-knit community of friends all of whom watched Hemant and Jayant grow up and whose kids often became friends with the two boys. This community shared countless Thanksgiving dinners, graduations, summer barbeques, birthdays, Diwali celebrations at the Kairams. As Hemant grew up, he often became the young man behind the grill, cleaning the dishes, and carving the turkey.
As a teenager in Pelham, Hemant was a fun-loving teenager with many friends and well-liked by his teachers. He was an avid biker and photographer, a member of the theater and AV club, and worked his way up to Eagle Scout, cultivating his deep appreciation of nature and the outdoors. He spoiled his baby brother Jayant, who never hesitated to climb into his lap to eat oranges together. Hemant’s many interests, passions, and commitment to helping others were always an inspiration for Jayant. Hemant graduated from Pelham Memorial High School in 1988 and was accepted at the State University of New York at Stony Brook where he majored in biochemistry. After completing his undergraduate studies in 1992, Hemant started his medical studies at Saba University in 1993. It was in medical school that Hemant met Neeraja Dandamudi, his wife, love of his life, and best friend. They were married in 1996 and both completed their medical school in 1997.
Hemant started his internship and residency along with Neeraja at Summit Overlook Hospital in NJ in 1997 and completed it in 2000. Quickly after finishing residency, he joined Summit Pediatrics, then under Dr. John Vigorita. In December 2010, Hemant took over as Owner and Director of the practice and under his leadership, continued to grow the thriving and well-respected service for Summit families and surrounding communities. In 2017, Summit Pediatrics Associates joined Advocare as Advocare Summit Pediatrics and Hemant became Vice President. In addition to his pediatric responsibilities, Hemant also took on numerous teaching appointments as evidence of his passion for empowering the next generation of pediatric providers. He was formerly a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UMDNJ New Jersey Medical School, Adjunct Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and was serving as Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Sidney Kimmel College along with holding the position of Vice Chair of Pediatrics at Summit Overlook. In 2011, as part of the medical nonprofit, Hands Up for Haiti (HUFH), Hemant led his first team of residents and nurses to provide global health services to communities in impoverished areas of Northern Haiti. Since then, he has led a team a year to Haiti, and helped established HUFH’s Global Health program. His commitment to global health continued as he recently took on the appointment of Director of the Pediatric Global Health Program at Goryeb Children’s Hospital.
As accomplished as Hemant was, and with all his many roles and titles, he never wavered from his sense of integrity and personal mission to help others with any task big or small. He remained humble, generous, an avid reader and committed to learning throughout his career. He was always quick to help with a move, give someone a ride to the airport, plan big family gatherings, or provide endless upon endless “after” hours pediatric support to his patients, or mentor the many young doctors he taught or led on trips to Haiti. Beyond the compassion and caring regularly noted by the Summit community and families, he had a great, laid-back sense of humor, a fondness for trivia, a streak of mischievousness and was always up for an adventure, heading to a ballgame or a Pearl Jam concert with his friends, a test drive of a luxury car, or a drink with colleagues. Raising three wonderful and kind children and building a home with Doctor and Mrs Kairam was his proudest achievement. He celebrated Neeraja’s successes while she provided the backbone for his. He cherished their concert date nights and weekend gateways. As a father and husband, Hemant loved taking his family on road trips across the country, and sharing his fanatical love of the New York Yankees, the New York Giants, Seinfeld, Star Wars and classic rock with them. He took great pleasure in nurturing his kids’ many interests, whether it was Arin’s love of golf and playing music, Devin’s obsession with sports, and Ellie’s love for baking, painting and art. Hemant always looked out for the health and well-being of his parents and brother, and was so proud to see and help his brother get married and welcome his new baby niece in March 2020. He was a bottomless source of medical and non-medical support and advice to an extended family across the country. Although Hemant left this world too soon, the mark he has left on the world is immeasurable and undeniable, and we wish him peace and rest now.
As Hemant’s children wrote, “Hemant will be missed by many, and always by us.”
Hands Up for Haiti, the global health nonprofit Hemant worked with for over a decade, has set up a Memorial Fund to honor his legacy and impact on communities here and abroad. In lieu of flowers or other tokens, the family requests that you donate to the Memorial Fund. More information can be found here: https://handsupforhaiti.harnessapp.com/wv2/campagn/3156
For the guest that will be attending the visiting hours on Friday and Saturday, you must sign up using the Sign Up Genius App that is at the top of Hemant’s obituary. It will be available on Thursday, December 3rd at noon.