Lives of the fellows

John Rasiah Wilson

b.17 January 1911 d.[?] September 1984
MBE(1951) MRCS LRCP(1936) MB BS Lond(1936) DCH(1937) DTD Madras(1943) MD Lond(1949) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1972)

John Rasiah Wilson was born in Colombo, Ceylon - now Sri Lanka -the son of a company director, Kanagasabai Alfred Wilson and his wife Emily Sellaonamah Lawton whose father was a coroner in Yatiyantota. His early education was at the Royal College, Colombo, and he then came to the United Kingdom to study medicine. He entered King’s College Hospital medical school and graduated in 1936. After house appointments at the Belgrave Hospital for Children, London, he returned to Colombo and joined the Department of Health, taking up an appointment as house physician to Colombo General Hospital. In May 1940 he was appointed demonstrator in pathology at Ceylon Medical College and physician to the Colombo General Hospital. That same year he married Ellen Rosemary, daughter of William Penfold Amirthanayagam Cooke, a divisional agricultural officer, Government of Ceylon. They had four children; a son and three daughters. From 1939-42 he worked with the RAMC at the 54th and 55th Indian General Hospitals.

He returned to the UK for postgraduate studies during 1944-49 and was subsequently appointed physician to the Chest Hospital, Welisara, Ceylon, and consultant physician to the Chest Hospital, Ragama and TB Sanatorium, Kandana. He had joined the Anti-Tuberculosis Campaign in 1944 as a medical officer and in July 1954 he became superintendent in charge. His work in the control and treatment of tuberculosis in Ceylon was outstanding and there was a sharp decline in the incidence of TB during the 1950s and ’60s. He was instrumental in the formation of the first thoracic unit at the General Hospital, Colombo, in 1952. From 1949-57 he was consultant to the RAF in Ceylon. In 1964 he relinquished his post with the Anti-TB Campaign and that of visiting physician to the Chest Hospital, Welisara, on being appointed visiting physician to the Colombo General Hospital where he remained until his retirement in 1972. The crowds who attended his clinic and the overcrowding of his ward were ample proof of his popularity as a general physician. His work was recognized by the award of the MBE in 1951.

He was a hardworking, deeply religious man. His interests, outside medicine and his family, lay in gardening, agriculture and politics. He played rugby and tennis at school and, during his early years in the UK, represented King’s College Hospital at cricket.

K Dharmadasa

(Volume IX, page 594)

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