Paediatrics/Child Health
Designatory Letters: 
LMS Sri Lanka 1932, DPH Lond 1937, DCH Lond 1949, MRCP Edin 1952, FRCP Edin 1966, FSLCP 1987, FSLCPaed 1997

(Contributed by daughter Mrs C Kulatunga)

Dr AFS Perera was born on the 17th February 1907 in the coastal town of Negombo to middle class parents. He was educated at Maristella College, Negombo, which was a prestigious college at the time and is to date.

By the age of twenty five years he qualified as a General Physician.

As was customary he was posted to several hospitals island-wide. The duties ranged from District Medical Assistant to Medical Officer of Health. A man of few words, he enjoyed his work and gained much experience in varied fields of treatment. At the outstation hospitals the Medical Officers were expected to deal with whatever ailment, be it common flu, tropical diseases or child birth.

After a period of about twelve years he was appointed as the Port Health Officer, in which capacity he had to examine all passengers disembarking ships. It was imperative that preventive measures be taken to keep infectious diseases at bay.

A few years later he proceeded to the United Kingdom in order to specialize in Paediatrics. On his return he was attached to the Lady Ridgeway Children's Hospital, which was the only hospital exclusively for children at the time.

He was well known for being a stickler for punctuality, cleanliness and discipline. His love for children was evident as he would do his utmost to cure them with whatever available resources. An untold number of children would have benefited under his care during his services at Lady Ridgeway Hospital.

After retirement from Government Service he continued to see patients at his residence and was a Consultant to a few Private Hospitals. He ceased to see patients in 2002 at the age of 95 years. The faith and trust placed in him was manifested by the fact that many of his patients were the third generation of the family. He was essentially a family physician, a mentor and guide to the parents and a confidant of the adult patient.

Till the last two weeks of his life he was able to do things for himself and maintained his health of body and mind till the very last. He was a devout catholic who walked to the nearby chapel for daily mass till the age of 90 years.

He will be sadly missed by his loved ones. The love, goodness and service rendered to all those children of this land will be remembered always.

An excerpt from a letter written by one of his former interns Dr JKS Weerasekera MBBS (Ceylon) FRCS (England) who is presently an Orthopaedic Surgeon, who in fact successfully operated on his former teacher a few days prior to his peaceful departure from our midst, clearly shows how much he valued.

'The morning round began at 8.30 am giving us barely the time to get ready and we did arrive early in the ward in spite of night duty. The waiting for the boss was a tense half an hour, hoping everything would be spick and span in the ward and patients. "He is coming!" a nurse on the look-out would whisper and Dr Perera would walk in sprightly dressed in western attire with his stethoscope round his neck. "Boss" meticulously went from bed to bed examining the problem cases, occasionally adjusting the treatment. He was a man of few words, such as "feel that spleen, listen to that mid-dialostic murmur" etc. He was inevitably gentle with the kids and civil to the mothers, with only a rare burst of soft voiced annoyance at some omission.

Dr Perera's special interest was type 2 nephritis - nephrotic syndrome, causing excess passage of albumin in the urine. He instituted therapy with large doses of prednislone reducing the dose day by day as the patient improved. Urine tests showing the extent of protein were personally inspected by the "boss". The ward round for about 30 bed patients and many 'floor' patients would be over only around 11.30 am giving us little time to write up the discharges and diagnosis card of kids to be sent home. He would be back in the ward between 2-5 pm for a quick round. He was daily available and on call for advice.

Dr AFS Perera guided us and the patients through it all with great clinical acumen and up-to-date care in what was one of the best paediatric hospitals in Asia at the time, possibly on par with most institutions in the UK. An untold number of house officers and registrars passed though his ward and many reached the zenith in their professional lives before retirement.