Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Pi­o­neer In­ter­ven­tional Ra­di­ol­o­gist in Sri Lanka

- (This ar­ti­cle is penned by his grate­ful trainees Dr Chan­drasiri Lokubal­a­sooriya and Dr Aruna Palle­watte) Medicine · Ecology · Sri Lanka · University of Colombo · Maryland · Radiation · Ananda College · Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo · Karapitiya · Tangalle

It is now one year since the pass­ing away of pi­o­neer ra­di­ol­o­gist Dr N Abey­gu­nawar­dena.

Dr Abey­gu­nawar­dena joined the De­part­ment of ra­di­ol­ogy of the Na­tional Hos­pi­tal of Sri Lanka in early 1990s. He was able to win the hearts of all staffers who re­mem­ber him as dark pleas­ant gen­tle­man with a friendly smile.

By this time the field of in­ter­ven­tional ra­di­ol­ogy was be­gin­ning to creep up as a branch of Ra­di­ol­ogy. And he him­self took the chal­lenge of es­tab­lish­ing it ini­tially at the Na­tional Hos­pi­tal.

As there was no or­gan­ised train­ing pro­gramme for in­ter­ven­tional Ra­di­ol­ogy in the coun­try, then, he made con­tacts with ex­perts in the field to learn from for­eign col­leagues. There­fore he was able to com­mence both ba­sic and ad­vanced in­ter­ven­tional ra­di­o­log­i­cal pro­ce­dures start­ing from the grass­roots level. There­fore he is re­garded with re­spect as the father of in­ter­ven­tional ra­di­ol­ogy in Sri Lanka.

With his keen in­ter­est and un­tir­ing ef­forts he was able to pro­cure a sta­teof–the-art dig­i­tal an­giog­ra­phy ma­chine to the main ra­di­ol­ogy de­part­ment NHSL. This tremen­dously boosted the in­ter­ven­tional ra­di­ol­ogy ca­pa­bil­i­ties of his unit. With this new tool he was able to per­form Neu­ro­log­i­cal and head and neck in­ter­ven­tions.

He was a great teacher and men­tor to his ju­niors and the present lead­ing in­ter­ven­tional ra­di­ol­o­gists in the coun­try are his erst­while trainees. He was re­ally proud to see his trainees be­come skill­ful in­ter­ven­tion­al­ists in var­i­ous hos­pi­tals in the coun­try. Through his stren­u­ous ef­forts many in­ter­ven­tional ra­di­ol­ogy cen­tres were es­tab­lished all over the coun­try.

Dr Abey­gu­nawar­dene was born as the sec­ond child in a mid­dle class fam­ily in Tan­galle in 1959. His father was an ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer and Gov­ern­ment Agent. A young Abey­gu­nawar­dene had his pri­mary education at a lo­cal school and later joined Ananda Col­lege to com­plete his GCE Ad­vanced Level Ex­am­i­na­tion. He qual­i­fied to en­ter the Fac­ulty of Medicine, Univer­sity of Colombo.

Af­ter­wards he en­rolled for the Post Grad­u­ate in-ser­vice pro­gramme in ra­di­ol­ogy of the Post Grad­u­ate Med­i­cal In­sti­tute.

Af­ter suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the fi­nal MD ra­di­ol­ogy ex­am­i­na­tion , he un­der­went overseas train­ing.

On his re­turn he was ap­pointed as con­sul­tant ra­di­ol­o­gist at the Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal in Kara­pi­tiya. He is cred­ited with de­vel­op­ing in­fras­truc­ture at Kara­pi­tiya and did yeo­man ser­vice to pa­tients. He fre­quently used to say that those were his mem­o­rable days where he was able to im­prove ra­di­ol­ogy in the south­ern part of the coun­try.

Later he got a trans­fer to Cas­tle Street Hos­pi­tal.

He was ap­pointed as the head of the de­part­ment of ra­di­ol­ogy at the na­tional Hos­pi­tal; which is the largest such unit in this coun­try. Later he also func­tioned as the sec­re­tary and fi­nally as chair­man of the board of study ra­di­ol­ogy.

His farewell cer­e­mony was at­tended by a large num­ber of ra­di­ol­o­gists from all over the coun­try which was in fact a tes­ti­mony for his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer.

He mostly spent his re­tire­ment lead­ing a time spent on re­li­gious en­gage­ments and at­tend­ing to pa­tients oc­ca­sion­ally.

May he at­tain the supreme bliss of nib­bana.

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