My life as a general surgeon in Sri Lanka

My life as a general surgeon in Sri Lanka

“Sharing 38 Years of Surgical Experiences”

The motivation to write these stories, share thoughts, experiences and expertise arose from many pleasant and nostalgic memories I have had of my active life as a General Surgeon in Sri Lanka for 38 years.  My first posting was in January 1982.  That was as Surgeon to the Base Hospital situated in the rural District of Polonnaruwa 240Km. from the Capital City of Colombo. I was the only surgeon to an impoverished population of 260,000 people mostly farmers. That period ended in April 1988, but not without gathering a vast surgical knowledge of surgery with memorable experiences.  From there I proceeded to the semi urban city of Gampaha where I worked for 5 ½ years before being appointed Consultant Surgeon to the Sri Jayewardenapura General Hospital in 1993 from which post I retired in 2014.

My time spent in Polonnaruwa was the most enlightening and the most challenging and many of my stories are related to the experiences gathered in that part of the country.

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times”, says Charles Dickens in his novel ‘A tale of two Cities ’. Yes indeed. My time spent in Polonnaruwa was a mix of the best and the worst of times, joys, sorrows, achievements and frustrations.

Some Lessons Learnt

  • When called upon to work in an environment with limited resources, I learnt to adapt to the difficult situations and the importance of improving the services for the benefit of for the people.
  • I realized that the challenge of improving the services is a tremendous task indeed. Going beyond the call of duty is highly rewarding indeed.
  • I learnt that it is essential to be available when required to relieve human suffering and save lives, sometimes taking risks and making bold decisions. This indeed was truly a test of the human spirit.
  • Living in a rural district helped me to understand the harsh conditions under which the people live in these areas. I was also exposed to other methods of medical care in the village which was enlightening, but sometimes frightening.
  • With the onset of the war in the country, I was exposed to a completely new problem, namely war injuries resulting from machine guns, bombs, land mines, antipersonnel mines and other devices. I had no option but to learn on the job. Saving the lives of those with such horrendous injuries gave me immense satisfaction. Learning is a continuous process and will never end.
  • I learnt the management of a wide range of clinical conditions. This experience helped me in advancing in my chosen specialty and being worthy of being appointed as a consultant surgeon to a prestigious hospital in the capital city later in my career.
  • I was prepared to advance in my field of surgery by learning and practicing new techniques. This also gave me the opportunity to participate in activities of professional associations to impart my knowledge to others.
  • The avenues for imparting one’s knowledge to others were many indeed, thus giving me the satisfaction of having enlightened another in the course of one’s work.

What are the Stories and why did I decide to Write?

  • These stories will cover a wide range of topics including some common and rare surgical problems, injuries, emergencies, war injuries including those caused by bomb blasts, landmines, antipersonnel mines, bullets and those that are so rare that I have seen only once during my entire surgical career spanning 38 years.
  • Interspersed with medical and surgically related stories will be those connected to the family and friends, social activities, sports and recreational activities especially in Polonnaruwa.
  • These stories are to inspire the future generation of young doctors who may be assigned to work in areas out of their comfort zones. They may then look at their duty not as a burden but as a pleasant and sacred duty, not as a misfortune or a problem but a God given opportunity to serve humanity and also gather experience in activities outside one’s specialty.
  • They are also for the non medical and not so faint hearted who are interested in stories related to medical / surgical issues.

As I gathered my thoughts together in the past few months, I was amazed at how providential God’s blessing has been to help me write these stories with courage and determination for the benefit of readers. My work as a surgeon is the work of human hands but unless the good Lord, the supreme architect of all life, guides my hands, I shall not succeed in my task.

I hope these stories may illuminate the path of many in the years to come.

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14 thoughts on “My life as a general surgeon in Sri Lanka

  1. Many thanks for sharing your invaluable experience with the younger generation of surgeons. I got inspired by the stories I heard and articles I read at ward 8 SJGH, being an intern under your guidance as my first intern appointment way back in 2006. The lessons learnt during those days are really helping me these days as a junior Consultant Surgeon and being the founder Plastic Surgeon at TH Ratnapura developing the unit.

    Thank you ever so much for pushing me towards my dream of becoming a Surgeon while I was under your guidance at the very beginning of my career. May the triple gem bless you and family.

  2. The story of your life as a Surgeon is very inspiring. Bless your hands which have cured and saved lives.

  3. The story of your life as a Surgeon is incredible & inspiring too. GOD will continue to guide you & bless your hands to save HIS children’s lives. May GOD bless you

  4. “My time spent in Polonnaruwa was the most enlightening and the most challenging and many of my stories are related to the experiences gathered in that part of the country.” and those are the years that would have given you the strength, determination and will to meet any challenge. Very proud of your work Gamini and God bless those hands that healed.

  5. As a Sri Lankan and an old Josephian I am proud of what you have achieved dear Gamini.

  6. Sir, it is a wonderful experience to have worked in a war zone, which many doctors would not have had the opportunity!

  7. Commendable work Gamini. May the gracious Lord bless your hands to perform many more surgeries and save patients.

  8. God Bless You and your family Gamini for all what you have done for the community.

  9. Doctors of your caliber are few and far between- they were devoted and it was a vocation and did not treat it like a job to fleece patients. There was a lot of care and concern. Thank you.

  10. Reputed surgeon who is always committed to serve humanity with a heart of love and healing touch.

  11. Dear Gamini
    Going through your experiences in the North, your contribution is great and I am wondering why due recognition was not given to you?

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