Sir Elton John is mourning the Covid death of a pioneering children’s HIV doctor who he met in South Africa.
Elton was said to be “deeply upset” at the news scientist Arthi Ramkissoon had passed away at 61.
They became friends after she wrote to the superstar asking for help rebuilding a hospital.
To her shock Elton jetted to Durban to study the plans she had to help teenagers with Aids.
Then, in 2017, the singer flew Dr Ramkissoon and Lindiwe Nyathikazi, a hospital youth ambassador, to Britain for a £5,000-a-head fundraiser at his Berkshire home.
It raised more than £2.5million for the KZN Children’s Hospital.
Dr Ramkissoon remained close friends with the singer and it is believed Sir Elton visited the completed HIV unit and made other large donations.
A hospital source said: “Tragically Dr Ramkissoon fell victim to Covid last week and after a brave but short battle lost her fight for life on Monday.
“The Elton John Aids Foundation were informed and have been in constant contact.
“They offered Sir Elton’s sincere condolences and they said he was deeply upset. One of Arthi’s most prized possessions was a photograph taken of her with Sir Elton, now 73, at the fundraising auction.
“She was like a human dynamo and never gave up raising money for the hospital since she joined in 2012. Her loss is a huge blow, but we will keep up her work in her memory.”
The history of the hospital had fascinated Elton.
It was the first built just for children in South Africa in 1928 and offered treatment regardless of race.
But apartheid forced its closure in 1984.
It fell into disrepair until 2012 when its name was changed from the Addington Children’s Hospital to the KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital.
Mother-of-two Dr Ramkissoon became the CEO and her cheeky approach to rock and roll star Elton for help changed the hospital’s fortunes.
She said at the time: “We did not expect him to visit for a minute but he did and spent a long time talking to young patients and understood what a difference the funding would make to thousands of teenagers.”