On October 13, Jasha Morarji died peacefully at the Mercy Hospice after a long, two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Typically, Jasha fought this all the way, enduring two major operations and countless bouts of chemotherapy.
Born in Onehunga, Jasha was taken to India at age six for her cultural education. She returned to New Zealand at 13 speaking Hindi, Gujurati and being able to read and write Sanscript, but had forgotten her English. Remastering this and doing well in mathematics set her up for a career as a radiographer, but unfortunately her father died and she could not complete her exams. She was always very grateful to Dr Bill Taylor who took her on as an ophthalmic technician trainee in June 1979 at Auckland Hospital, which was where we met after I returned from my fellowship training in London.
Jasha soon mastered refracting, visual field testing, tonometry and organising clinics. In 1989, she was head hunted by the then Murdoch, Elliot and Sharp private ophthalmology practice. Dr Dianne Sharp said, “She was a bundle of energy, helping organise the practice and was instrumental in changing the name to City Eye Clinic. She was wonderful with the patients, always friendly and professional. She was particularly supportive to me during my years of juggling work with young children. She was a lovely, gentle person”.
Jasha then joined me and my father at 102 Remuera Rd in 1994 and immediately became involved in setting up the forerunner to Eye Institute, The Auckland Cataract and Laser Centre, which I founded with Tony Morris and Bruce Hadden. Thus began our long, professional and close personal relationship, as Jasha gradually became one of the Ring family.
As well as being incredibly hard working, Jasha had remarkable marketing skills. She encouraged me to move into multifocal intraocular lenses as she foresaw this was the market of the future, built many strong relationships at conferences with trade representatives that benefitted Eye Institute and even towards the end of her life was still giving out our cards in the oncology clinics.
Her memory skills were of pachydermal proportions. She could remember whom we met and where, product details and their agents; I never challenged her memory for detail.
Although Jasha’s life was consumed by ophthalmology, she liked to get out walking with friends and taking trips overseas. One of her great achievements was completing the Camino de Santiago walk of 800kms in 36 days.
But what I will miss most is how she cared for my practice and patients as if they were her own. Without Jasha, my practice would not have been as successful as it is nor my career as long lived, I suspect. It was a pleasure to work with this wonderful woman and my family and I will treasure her memories for ever.
Our deepest condolences to her son Parry and daughter Nimi.