Behjat Ansari was a consultant paediatrician at East Glamorgan Hospital, Pontypridd and a professor of paediatrics at the University of Glamorgan School of Applied Sciences. A general paediatrician, he always maintained a special interest in oncology, haematology and infection. He was born in Delhi and graduated in medicine from the University of Calcutta in 1963.
After clinical appointments in France, America and Glasgow, Ansari went to Wales, where he was to spend the rest of his professional life. He worked initially in Merthyr, Swansea and Cardiff, in junior posts, and in 1974 was appointed consultant paediatrician to East Glamorgan Hospital, serving the Rhondaa Valleys.
As clinical teacher to the University of Wales College of Medicine, he was always very helpful, enthusiastic and innovative and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject. For his paediatric colleagues throughout Wales, who held him in great affection, he was a source of great wit and humour, charm and wisdom. For his patients in the Rhondaa and the medical, nursing and all other staff he was a dedicated, kindly, much loved paediatrician.
He played an important role in developing the Welsh Paediatric Society and was its president from 1994 to 1996. Always keen to develop new ideas, he single-handedly launched the Welsh Paediatric Journal in 1989.
He was appointed professor of paediatrics at the University of Glamorgan School of Applied Sciences in 1996 - an appointment of which he was justifiably very proud. He used this position to develop an MSc in paediatrics which, with typical magnanimity and care for his community, he hoped would provide opportunities for local general practitioners to understand more about the problems of children.
Outside medicine he had many interests, of which writing poetry in his mother tongue, Urdu, was especially dear to his heart. He was well known in local literary circles and had a great love of language. He was fluent in three (Urdu, French and English) and also had a great knowledge of 16th century Indian and Persian poetry.
Ansari underwent major heart surgery ten years ago. Although he realised that his health was not always good, he was never deterred from his many professional and cultural pursuits. His philosophy of life was always refreshing. The night before he underwent his second major operation, from which he never recovered, he told me he had folded a particular page in a French novel, and if - after he had recovered from the anaesthetic - he was still able to read and understand the text, he would feel that his brain was unharmed from the surgical procedure! It is this winsome humour that I am sure he would wish his many friends in Wales, Britain and overseas to remember him by.
He is survived by his wife Annie, son Philippe and daughter, Sophia.
D P Davies