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Tributes flow for top physician

Dr Kit de Silva, left, at the unveiling of a cardiac treadmill for Wairarapa Hospital’s outpatients department. PHOTO/FILE

ELI HILL
[email protected]

Tributes have flowed from Wairarapa and international medical communities after the death of Masterton physician Dr Kirthi Sukumar [Kit] de Silva.

Described by colleagues as one of the most experienced, qualified, and up-to-date physicians Wairarapa has had, De Silva passed away on February 15. He was in his 90th year.

During his career, he brought specialist medical services to Wairarapa and was responsible for much of the development of the Wairarapa District Health Board’s cardiology unit.

De Silva was educated at the Royal College Colombo.

He went on to the Medical School of the University of Ceylon in 1949 and graduated in 1954 with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree.

After junior appointments, he set off to the UK in 1958 for further training.

On his return to Ceylon, he passed the difficult MD [Doctor of Medicine] examination

The 1970s were uncertain times in Sri Lanka. There was serious political turmoil with an insurrection in 1971.

De Silva and his family emigrated to Masterton in 1972.

He was awarded Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians in 1976 and then Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians [London] soon after.

Fellow doctor Tenick Dennison, who worked with De Silva for more than 30 years, said he was “the most qualified physician we’d ever had at the hospital at that point”.

“He was really experienced, highly qualified, and he was absolutely dedicated to medicine.

“Medicine was his job and also his hobby in a way.”

Dennison said that although the hospital had a coronary care unit before De Silva arrived, it hadn’t been used to its potential.

“When he came to the hospital, he used the coronary care unit to its fullest extent, and he did it well.

“He was the first physician here who really had a true knowledge of cardiology.”

While doing an exam for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, he was asked why he still worked in Masterton.

“They saw how good he was and said, you should be working in Wellington or Auckland.

“And he said, no he liked it in Masterton. He obviously liked the lifestyle here.”

In addition to his hospital work, De Silva ran a medical practice from his home and worked at a Carterton medical practice.

De Silva retired from the Wairarapa DHB at age 83, physician Tim Matthews said.

“He worked at the DHB for near 40 years, and he retired with significant reluctance because he didn’t think he needed to retire.

“He was very unusual in that he was a GP as well as a hospital doctor. His arrival brought specialist medical services to Wairarapa which they didn’t have before.”

In a tribute to his friend, London-based Dr Nihal D Amerasekera, said he was “one of the most likeable, genuine persons you could ever wish to meet”.

“He was always available to chat with his friends and colleagues, not only about medicine but about many other things, including the other great loves in his life, the arts, music and travel.

“Many however, will perhaps remember Dr De Silva for his wit and humour and his extraordinary energy and enthusiasm for life.”

Amerasekera said De Silva’s patients had “adored him”.

“Dr De Silva brought a certain style, polish and elegance to his ward rounds and we were all uplifted by it. Many of us felt we should have had a longer spell with him.”

De Silva is survived by his wife and by their daughters Lilamani and Sonali and son Raja.

3 COMMENTS

  1. He was a great man my mum doctor to. R.I.P Dr Desilva Much respect to your family to.

  2. Dr De-Silva was an amazing dr and man. You will be missed. My heart goes out to Mrs De-Silva and family.

Comments are closed.

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