An Unusual Patient

An Unusual Patient

24th February 1988

As I was passing the Polonnaruwa Veterinary Clinic I saw a crowd gathered there. I stopped my car and checked what was going on. The people told me that a baby elephant had been brought for treatment. The mother elephant had died after being knocked down by a train at Minneriya. The baby elephant had been captured by the “Vets” and she was in dire straits because the naval was very badly infected with a discharge of pus. Maggots too had infected the wound. The wound had to be cleaned urgently. A delay in dealing with the sepsis could have resulted in the death of “this baby”.

There was no Veterinary Surgeon to do this. I volunteered my service and asked them to bring the baby elephant to the hospital. Outside the hospital an isolated corridor, I performed the operation while the helpers were holding onto the baby. Saline drips and antibiotics were administered. The baby elephant recovered from its illness and visited me at home to say “Thank you” on her way to the Dehiwala zoo.


Dear Reader, you might be interested to read my next post on domestic accidents and injuries which is preventable in rural areas even now : KEROSENE BURNS CAUSED BY A BOTTLE LAMP

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20 thoughts on “An Unusual Patient

  1. Once again a great a piece of writing Dr. I was delighted and thrilled to learn that you cured an elephant!
    You have been blessed with great hands dear Dr. Do write more and more on your illustrious career.

  2. The caption ‘An unusual patient’ provoked an immediate read! Dr…have you had the ‘unusual pleasure’ of looking him/ her up at any point during the last 32 years post-surgery! very humane,so touching and perhaps unique! Animal Activists are craving for such stories!

  3. Dear Warren
    Thank you for reading my story on the sick “Baby Elephant”. That caption was to attract readers! I usually follow up my patients but unfortunately I have not been able to that with this “patient”. I wonder whether the patient will recognise the surgeon if he visits Dehiwela Zoo. You are free to share this story with animal activists.
    Best wishes

  4. Very Interesting story. A very unusual patient indeed and going out of your way and field to care for this baby elephant is remarkable indeed.

    1. Dear Tashi
      Thank you very much for reading my stories. Hope you are enjoying! I am sharing my knowledge with others.
      Operating on a Baby Elephant was a rare experience. We must grab any occasion to save a life.
      Your comment is much appreciated. Hope we can meet one day when the pandemic settles down.
      Best Wishes & Stay Safe
      Gamini Goonetilleke

  5. Oh Gamini, it is an incredible story. A surgeon turning Vet at a time in need

  6. A beautiful story………… The kindness of strangers….. and who better than a doctor

  7. Outstanding!!! My God You have stolen my job. Such an amazing treatment when it was an emergency. Thanks a lot. You are a humble human-being. Greatly appreciated

  8. I know St Josephs College has produced surgeons over time but you must be the first and only surgeon to operate on a baby elephant.

  9. Gamini, I am truly amazed by this story to the point that I have no words to describe your benevolance, compassion loving kindness towards both man and animal. What doctor would do this?

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