Lives of the fellows

Kankanamalage Dharmadasa

b.24 May 1927 d.12 June 1990
MB BS Ceylon(1954) MD(1958) MRCP(1961) FRCP(1979)

Kankanamalage Dharmadasa was a Sri Lankan to his fingertips and popularly known as ‘Dharme’. It is seldom that a medical man possesses great intelligence with the complementary qualities of scholarship and dedication to his patients but when these are also combined with a warm and friendly disposition such a man commands admiration and love. All were possessed by Dharme in full measure. He was born at Ratnapura, the gem city of Sri Lanka, where his father Kankanamalage Don Francis Appuhamy was a landed proprietor. He was educated at Sevali Vidyalaya and went on to study medicine at the medical school of the University of Sri Lanka in Colombo.

After graduation he did resident appointments in medicine and surgery at the General Hospital, Colombo, and then joined the medical professorial unit as registrar. In 1958 he obtained his doctorate, and that same year he married Susima Wickremasinghe and came to the UK for postgraduate studies. He became a member of the College in 1961.

In 1962 Dharmadasa returned to Sri Lanka and was appointed consultant physician to the General Hospitals in Galle, Ratnapura and Kandy. He was appointed professor of medicine at the University of Colombo in 1975. He was an outstanding clinician and clinical teacher, and in great demand as a physician. His reputation as a teacher was so high that it attracted foreign students to his unit for their elective appointments and he received many commendations including that of a former Director General of WHO.

Dharme was exceptionally well read outside the medical field. His knowledge of Western and Oriental literature matched his knowledge of medicine. He was much sought after as an after-dinner speaker, when his witticisms were much appreciated. His sudden death came as a great shock to his many friends in Sri Lanka and abroad and was a great loss to the practice of medicine and to medical education in Sri Lanka.

S J Stephen

[Ceylon med.J., 1991,36,88]

(Volume IX, page 128)

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