Categorized | In Memoriam

Tribute to Dr. Nielhaan Samaranayaka by Prof. Wilfred Perera

Posted on 22 April 2015 by admin

Nielhaan Samaranayake A tribute to Dr. Nielhaan Samaranayaka by Professor Wilfred Perera.

I decided to write this appreciation for my worthy student of the NCMC. Dr. Nielhan Gerald Samaranayaka, a tall handsome perfect gentleman with a clean shaven head and face with an endearing personality. He had his primary education at St.Peter's College Colombo where he did brilliantly and was appointed the Head Prefect, Games Captain, President of the Drama and Debating Society and was awarded the prize for the best all round student for two years consecutively.

His father Dr. Gerald Samaranayaka, a good friend of mine was a well known General Practitioner. The doctor trio, Chris Raffel, B.P.N. Jayasekara and Samaranayaka carried out a very successful family practice at Galle Road, Wellawatta for over 30 years. He was a GP Obstetrician who attended to normal deliveries at St.Anne's Nursing Home Bambalapitiya and St. Michael's Nursing Home at Colpetty. He worked with the well- known consultant Prof. Henry Nanayakkara and assisted at his surgeries.

Athletics and rugby has been Nielhann's passion. He captained his school and university teams in both athletics and rugby and received colours from his school and the university for both. He did a diploma in sports medicine in Australia and has travelled abroad on many occasions with the national teams of Sri Lanka as the sports physician. Nielhann entered the North Colombo Medical College Ragama from the sixth batch and did brilliantly well. He obtained seven distinctions during his under graduate career and passed out in 1994 and was batch top in the final MBBS with a first class and distinctions in Obstetrician & Gynaeocology and Paediatrics. He was awarded the Frank Gunaratne gold medal for Paediatrics.

While awaiting his internship in 1995, I became not only his Guru but also mentor as he had decided to specialise in my field. He assisted me at my surgeries at St. Anne's Nursing Home and learnt all my surgical techniques. He obtained his specialist qualifications of MS OBGYN from the PGIM in 2001. He had the best results in the part 1 winning the gold medal. He had two years training as specialist registrar at the Prof. unit at the De Soysa Hospital and Teaching Hospital Sri Jayawardenapura prior to leaving for UK. I got him a place as registrar at Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport for one year under Dr. Asoka Weerakkody, who was my trainee at the Colombo South Hospital in 1972. After that he was the registrar in the Royal United Hospital, Bath for one year and returned to Sri Lanka after obtaining his MRCOG in 2002. After his return from UK he worked two years in the Prof. Unit as senior registrar at Mahamodara Teaching Hospital Galle.

I was expecting him to be an academic and join the Colombo Medical Faculty. He applied for a senior lecturer post, but for some reason or other he was not selected although he was best qualified for the post. Nielhann was thoroughly disillusioned after this and in 2004 joined the private sector as a visiting specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist and Laparoscopic surgeon at Nine Wells Mother and Baby Hospital and Joseph Frazer Hospital. His specialty was minimal access surgery in which he under went training and completed many advanced courses. He has had training in advanced Laparoscopic and Hysteroscopic surgery at KK Women's Hospital in Singapore for two years and also trained under Prof. Kurian Joseph in Chennai in 2007- 2009. He underwent advanced Foetal scanning under Prof. C. Anandakumar in Singapore University. He has attended many international conferences and made presentations through out the years.

He enjoyed reading, travelling and listening to music and most of all he enjoyed and found time to be with his wife and two children. Nielhann was always well dressed and had a very good rapport with his patients and nursing staff and others working in the hospitals. He worked with a smile and was jovial. He didn't like to live in the city and he bought a large property at Thalangama South on Lake road close to the lake and built his residence there. I have many times been to his residence and enjoyed his hospitality where he used to have many parties for his friends. He and his wife Dilko were perfect hosts.

Nielhann was very loyal to his alma mater and he did tremendous work for the College as President of the OBU for several years. I had the privilege of delivering normally his daughter Oshadi and his son Kaveesha. I had the pleasure of knowing Dilko's parents Ratna Deshapriya Senanayaka and Gloria. I had operated on her at St. Anne's Nursing Home many years ago. They entertained me in Jakarta when I attended a conference there. Her husband was the ambassador at that time. Nielhann joined the Volunteer Force of the Sri Lanka Navy. I was very happy when a Naval Officer who paid a tribute to him at Kanatta mentioned that as Surgeon Commodore he had conducted weekly clinics for the wives of the Naval personnel and performed over 260 operations at the Naval Hospital.

Nielhann was conferred the Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists UK. He had made arrangements to fly to Australia in April to attend the RCOG Congress where he was to receive his Fellowship Certificate from the President. How ever the Sri Lanka College did not consider awarding the Fellowship to him. During the past 10 years of working as consultant he has rendered a great service to his country.

It was very unfortunate that at the height of his career he had to leave the world. Just six months ago he was diagnosed with a cancer of the pancreas, and had a successful operation at Colombo South Teaching Hospital by gastro enterological surgeon Professor Mohan De Silva and his team and made a rapid recovery. How ever he developed secondaries in the liver and died two weeks after his 49th birthday. His wife Dilko was a tower of strength to him during his illness. I was amazed at the very large crowd that attended his final farewell at Kanatta, which I have never seen in my life. The Navy had organised the proceedings meticulously. It was a very solemn final farewell with a gun salute by the Navy. This brought to a close the life of a very lovable medical professional. Nielhaan has fought the good fight and run the race.

Good bye Sweet Prince. May the host of angels carry you to paradise to be with the Heavenly Father for ever, and where we fervently hope we will meet on that beautiful shore one day.

Professor Wilfred Perera.

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