Lives of the fellows

Harris Stanley de Silva

b.5 January 1908 d.1 June 1966
LMS Ceylon(1932) MB BS Lond(1946) DCH(1947) MRCP(1947) FRCP(1962)

Stanley de Silva was born in Panadura, Ceylon, the son of Sam de Silva, who served the Ceylon Government Railways, and of Harriet de Silva, the daughter of Mudaliyar S.T. Gunawardena of Panadura.

He belonged to a family of doctors. Three of his uncles were leading medical men in Ceylon, one sister practised in England, and two brothers, one of whom became a surgeon to the Government of Ceylon, were doctors.

After a brilliant career at St. Thomas’s College, Colombo, he entered the Ceylon Medical College, where he did exceptionally well, winning the first professional medal, the Lucy de Abrew Medal for Biology, the Mathew Medal for Medical Jurisprudence and the Garvin Medal for Operative Surgery. He ended his career at the Medical College in 1932 by winning the postgraduate scholarship awarded by the Government of Ceylon.

After serving the Government in the capacities of House Officer, District Medical Officer, Medical Registrar and Resident Physician of the General Hospital, Colombo, he travelled to England in 1944 to further his studies. He served as a resident officer at King’s College Hospital, London and at the Childrens’ Hospital in Sheffield. He was successful in the MRCP in 1948 and was awarded the FRCP in 1962. de Silva took a keen interest in the Ceylon Medical Association of which he was president in 1962, and was a member of a Government Cultural Mission to Russia in 1959.

He was an indefatigable worker and once he planned a project he was determined to see it to its successful conclusion. When he was appointed as Medical Superintendent of the Childrens’ Hospital, Colombo in 1949, he was decidedly dissatisfied with the existing conditions in that hospital and he spared no pains to see that a new and modern hospital was built. It was mainly through the efforts of de Silva that the new Childrens’ Hospital in Colombo with 650 beds came into existence.

About this time there was a big controversy in Ceylon regarding the care of newborn infants - de Silva maintained that they should be looked after by paediatricians, while others believed that this was the responsibility of obstetricians. The Government, however, upheld de Silva’s views. He was a strict disciplinarian and a good teacher who was highly respected by his students. He never failed to help a friend in need.

Apart from his work his interests ranged over a very wide field. He was a member of several well known social Clubs in Colombo. He was a lover of animals and birds and was fond of visiting the jungles to watch them in their natural surroundings. In 1937 he married Nalini, daughter of Dr. Henry Cooray of Panadura, Ceylon, a retired Government Medical Officer. He left a son who was a doctor and a daughter.

GH Cooray

[Brit.med.J., 1966, 2, 243]

(Volume VI, page 148)

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