Mount Royal fall cost life of promising Sainte-Justine surgeon

Dr. Shreyas Roy was at the top of his game, a respected and much-loved fellow in pediatric surgery at Sainte-Justine Hospital, when he fell to his death on Mount Royal.

Dr. Shreyas Roy, 38, was talented pediatric surgeon who specialized in transplants

Dr. Shreyas Roy, a pediatric surgeon at Montreal's Sainte-Justine Hospital, died after falling 10 metres down a cliff on Mount Royal early Sunday morning. (Facebook/Shreyas Roy)

Dr. Shreyas Roy loved a beautiful view.

His Facebook page features numerous photographs of vistas taken from vantage points in India and on his beloved Mount Royal, where the talented 38-year-old pediatric transplant surgeon fell to his death early Sunday morning.

That love of the view from on high may have contributed to the sense of wisdom and perspective that friends and colleagues came to expect from Roy.

Dr. Michel Lallier, who worked closely with Roy at Montreal's Sainte-Justine Hospital, said his colleague saw his future in surgery from an early age, an interest fed by the fact Roy's parents are specialists in Syracuse, New York.

"When he went to medical school, he went to be a surgeon," Lallier said.

Roy was in his early 20s when he came to Montreal to study toward that goal at McGill University around 2002. He graduated in 2006.

Dr. Shreyas Roy graduated from McGill University in 2006 and was working as a fellow on the pediatric surgery team at Sainte-Justine Hospital. (Facebook/Donald Doell)
Dr. Donald Doell, who met Roy at McGill, said he couldn't say for sure why his friend went into pediatric surgery, but it was something he always wanted to do.

"He had a passion for children and helping children, and it was a skill he wanted to bring to international health," Doell said.

He remembered his friend as a lover of music, literature and poetry who used his way with words to help others find their way through the many trials of medical school, and life.

"He had a knack for finding meaning and a way to express and understand and make sense of what was going on, and that was always very helpful," Doell said.

Romantic evening turns tragic

Saturday night, Roy was out with his girlfriend to celebrate their one-year anniversary. They were walking home along a trail that Roy jogged every day when the accident occurred.

Dr. Shreyas Roy, right, in a photo posted by his friend Dr. Donald Doell on Facebook. (Facebook/Donald Doell)
"That's why it's so amazing and so incredible and so shocking," Lallier said. "It's something they used to do. They were just a lovely couple coming back from dinner."

Lallier said the details of what happened aren't clear, only that it happened suddenly.

"The only thing [his girlfriend] can say is that 'I was with him, and then he wasn't there. I yelled his name, and he didn't answer," Lallier said.

It took a search-and-rescue climbing team about 20 minutes to reach Roy, who had fallen about 10 metres and was found in cardiorespiratory arrest.

He was declared dead in hospital around 5 a.m. Sunday.

Roy was scheduled to leave the next day for Chicago, one final training step before assuming a full-time position with Sainte-Justine's tight-knit transplant surgery team in 2018.

"We aren't [many] who are doing that, so we do all the cases together," Lallier said.

Roy was going to Chicago to learn a complex bypass technique known as the Rex shunt and bring the specialized skill back to Sainte-Justine's.

'Very human, very humble'

Lallier described Roy as full of energy and a lot of fun, and a consummate professional.

"When it was time to concentrate, we concentrated, and when it was time to have fun, we had fun," he said.

The surgeon was also remembered for his ability to relate to anyone, especially the kids he was treating.

"He was very human, very humble," Lallier said. "No matter what your social status, I never felt he judged anybody. Some people with that level of expertise have a big head, but that was never the case with Shreyas."

Dr. Shreyas Roy was to become a full-time member of the pediatric transplant tream in 2018. (Facebook/Dainius Juras)
Helping ground Roy was a childhood spent with relatives in a small village in India's Bihar province, on the border with Nepal.

That experience remained close to him, and fuelled a desire to eventually apply his surgical skills back in India.

"He wanted to make sure that that village had good health care for children," Lallier said.

"He wanted to build a new hospital that had pediatric surgery to make sure the children in that poor part of India had some care."

In a Facebook message announcing his death, Dr. Doell summed up the tragedy of his friend's death.

"He left this world while he was at his best, professionally and personally, and this was in large part due to the fact he and his partner Véronique were perfectly in love and happy together."

A memorial service for Dr. Shreyas Roy takes place tonight between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Alfred Dallaire Memoria, 1120 Jean-Talon Street East.