The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka



The good doctor of Maharagama who believed in simple treatment

Dr. B. D. J. De Silva�

Dr. B. D. J. de Silva, of Maharagama, passed away on June 9, 2007. The inaugural Dr. B. D. J de Silva Oration was delivered by Dr. D. P. L. C. Namaratne, during a session of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka.

Dr. B. D. J. de Silva was an uncrowned king of Maharagama. He rendered yeoman and dedicated service to the entire area for more than 50 years. He had treated four to five generations of the same family. He had a very simple lifestyle. He was a principled doctor par excellence in diagnostic skills. He was an all-rounder. He was an excellent doctor, teacher, artist, photographer, electrician and carpenter. He was involved in all aspects of social life and played many roles during his career.

He was a product of the “school by the sea, S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia. After completing the London Matriculation in 1941, and a pre-medical course, he joined the Medical College. He passed out with a second class in the finals of the MBBS, with distinctions in forensic medicine. He had an opportunity to join the faculty, but instead he joined the government service. He liked family medicine. In 1952, he resigned from government service to start his own practice.

At the time, Maharagama was a remote village, with no electricity and no proper roads. Patients came to him from the surrounding areas and from distant places. They could consult him day or night. He was the only general practitioner in the whole of Maharagama. There is not a family in Maharagama that was not treated by him. We will find his former patients in any place in Sri Lanka, and in many parts in the world.
His charges were minimal, and he did not take money from poor patients. He never charged the clergy of any religion. He was a doctor who gave very little medicine. He never prescribed expensive drugs. He followed the “rational prescribing” advocated by Dr. D. J. T. Liyanage, of the General Hospital, Colombo.

Patients had full faith in him. They insisted that if Dr. B. D. J. de Silva attended to them, they would be healed. Some said that if the good doctor prescribed a bottle of water, they would recover. That was the wonderful doctor-patient relationship that prevailed.
Most of the time, he would recommend coriander water and refrain from giving medicine. Even if he prescribed medicines, it would be minimal. He also had his own concoctions of mixtures and creams.

He engaged in all types of social activities. He was a member of a variety of clubs, societies and organisations. He was a founder member of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka, and was elected to the council at the inception. Later, he became President of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka. In his presidential speech, he spoke about rational prescribing. Thanking his teacher Dr. D. J. T. Liyanage, he said 80 per cent or more illnesses are self-limiting diseases (SLD) and the treatment was ADT (Any Damned Thing).

He was a founder member of the Sri Vajiragnana Temple Dharmayathanaya, Maharagama. He helped to build the temple. He was the senior vice president of the Sasana Sevaka Society, a post he held till his demise. He was a doctor to the Dharmayathanaya and looked after the wellbeing of the monks. In 2003, he was given recognition for services rendered to the Sri Vajiragnana Temple. He was a close associate of the late Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha Thero and the Ampitiye Rahula Thera.

In 2003, Dr. B. D. J. de Silva became the first doctor to receive an award in recognition of his services from the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka. Between 1961 and 1975, he was vice president and later president of the Independent Medical Practitioners Association of Sri Lanka. He was a council member of the Sri Lanka Medical Association and a member of the Health Council. He was a Senate Member of the Board of Management of Sri Jayawardenapura University. And he was a member of the Board of Management of the North Colombo Medical College. He was a lecturer for the college undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
He presented many research papers at the scientific sessions of the college. In 1989, he won the Dr. A.M. Fernando award for the best research paper submitted at the annual sessions of the College.

He was also a president of the Lions Club of Maharagama, and did yeoman service to the community.
We must not forget his wife Doreen, who was by his side and gave him the strength to achieve all he did. As they say, “Behind every great man is his wife.”

May he attain Nibbana.

A close associate

You were a star to us all

Annouchka Weeratunga Fernando

Annou, I just can’t believe that I am writing this appreciation. It took me so long to sit down to it as it was the hardest thing for me to do.
I still cannot come to terms with you not being here anymore. I miss you so much and I have no words to describe how sad I feel every time I think of you.

I recall the good times we have had at JK. My most memorable years were when you joined us at Keells Hotels and the fun and laughter we shared. I think of all your pranks, especially on a busy Monday morning, how you would send us to the boss’s room with the hotel charts only to see you in a fits of laughter. I miss you so much.

Words cannot express your unconditional love and concern for others. The friendship we shared was beyond anything I cherished in this world.
I carry a lot of sweet memories with me Annou. �The trips we have done together as a team always were memorable and eventful for me and everyone else. It was so much fun being around you as you were such a bubbly person and there was always so much positive energy emanating from within you.You were ever ready to play a prank on somebody and each time, we would laugh harder than the last.

What I remember most is your dedication towards your job. You had a passion for it and worked with so much joy and commitment. �You gave your whole self and were a true example of a dedicated employee, one who always inspired others. You were so optimistic and brimming with confidence to face any challenge. You were a star to us all.

Although I knew Terry many years before I knew you, it seemed as if I knew you more than him. You were such a faithful and close friend to me that I could tell you anything and be assured that you would always listen and comfort me.

I knew your life on earth was troubled although you never showed it and only you knew the pain. I admire the way you handled yourself with your sickness as you were never short of that radiant smile and happy thoughts. �You never asked “why me??” nor questioned the pain you went through but faced every obstacle with a lot of courage and humility. You were so proud of the beautiful family you had �who stood by you through thick and thin. Terry,�Aiyya Boy and Amy were so proud to have had you in their life as the most amazing wife and mother, one could ever dream of having. I still remember how Terry would call you every morning and afternoon like a prayer checking whether you had taken your medicine. The way he cared for you and how you both looked after each other was amazing. The love you had for Terry, Aiyya Boy and Amy was overwhelming, as you always showered your unconditional love and affection upon them as they meant everything to you.
God called you home long before your time as he believed that a beautiful Angel such as you deserved Heaven and nowhere else was good enough.

My life will be a difficult journey to face without you Annou, but with a heavy heart, I walk on.. I console myself knowing that I had the opportunity to be touched by an Angel and have spent the best years of my life with such a genuine and lovable friend who never let me fall.
Thank you Annou for being one of the greatest people I have ever met and for giving me the privilege of being a close friend of yours. I know that you are watching over me and everyone else you love.


His life is perpetuated in us through what he taught us

Rev Fr. Emmanuel Fernando

When he passed away peacefully on the morning of the Easter Vigil at the age of 87, Rev Fr Emmanuel Fernando was the oldest living priest of the Diocese of Chilaw. Ordained as a priest in 1924, he had toiled in the vineyard of the Lord for 51 long years before his retirement from active service in the Church in 2004.

He was no ordinary priest. For those of us who first met him as the Rector of the St Paul’s Seminary at Marawila, and continued to associate with him for well over a span of four decades, he was the guiding light of our lives. In one way or another, and as far as we could, we tried to fashion our lives on the values and principles he tried to inculcate in us during our training period at the seminary.

For us he was a saintly figure who was unremitting in his effort to fulfil the duties called on by his vocation to serve the Lord. His contribution to the service of the Church had been many and varied. Starting his priestly life as the assistant parish priest of Katuneriya, he continued to serve the Diocese of Chilaw in various capacities, the most important of which, to us, was the period he spent as the Rector of St Paul’s Seminary, Marawila. We had the good fortune of being his students during this period.

Many of us are indebted to Fr Emmanuel for the education he gave us at the seminary which laid the foundation of our lives and careers as laymen later in life. Espe-cially, his persistent efforts in teaching us English, which he did through sheer dint of hard work, stood us in good stead in later life. He was a great lover of music, too. Thanks to him, we are able to enjoy classical music. Most of all, he has left a tribe of ex-seminarians who can sing or enjoy church music in Latin. He was our Latin teacher.

Fr. Emmanuel touched the hearts of all of us who were under his tutelage at St Paul’s Minor Seminary in some way or another. Although Fr Emmanuel has left this world and joined the communion of saints in heaven, his life and memory are perpetuated in us through what he taught, and the values he instilled in us.

‘Requiescat in pace’ – May his soul rest in peace.

Stanley Fernando

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