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Biographical entry Perera, George Nelson (1915 - 2009)

MRCS and FRCS 1954; MB BS Ceylon 1941.

14 November 1915
Mortuwa, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)
27 January 2009


George Nelson Perera was a pioneer urologist in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. His consultant career spanned the years 1957 to 1971, first as a general surgeon and then as a specialist in genito-urinary surgery. He had to overcome considerable opposition from his general surgical colleagues in order to switch to urology as they still regarded the discipline as an integral part of their own work. He served the General Hospital in Colombo faithfully, training many of Sri Lanka's present generation of urologists.

He was born on 14 November 1915 in Moratuwa, in what was then Ceylon, the son of Cornelius Sylvester Martin Perera. His father was the first Ceylonese to be appointed as a superintendent of a British-owned tea estate. His mother, Stella née Dharmaratne, was a housewife. Educated first at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa, Perera moved to St Joseph College, Colombo, passed the London University matriculation examination in 1935 and went on to study medicine at the Ceylon Medical College of Colombo from 1936 to 1941, qualifying with first class honours. As a medical student he served from 1939 in the Ceylon Medical Corps and was demobilised at the end of the war with the rank of captain.

Much of his own training was under the guidance of the Milroy Paul, doyen of surgery in Ceylon, a man of great presence and striking appearance, who had strong connections with the College. When George Perera went to England in 1953, he worked with, and was much influenced by, Charles Wells in Liverpool, a friend to many aspiring surgeons from the Commonwealth.

Perera built up the urology unit with great care and patience. He equipped the theatres with state of the art instruments, established a dedicated male ward, a recognised number of female beds, and sent two male nurses to train at the Institute of Urology in London. The first endoscopic resection of the prostate was done using a McCarthy resectoscope by his registrar, Lalith Perera (no relation), who was guided through the operation by his mentor. George Perera was a keen teacher who inspired many trainees to continue in surgery, some entering urology as a career.

He retired in December 1971 from the state sector, but continued to work in private practice for a few years.

He was a keen member of the BMA (Ceylon branch) and the Ceylon (now Sri Lankan) Medical Association, and became a patron of the Sri Lanka Association of Urological Surgeons.

Outside medicine, he enjoyed power-boat racing, water-skiing and fishing. He was a member of the Catamaran Club, as well as the Power Boat Association of Sri Lanka. He enjoyed a game of golf and was a member of the Royal Colombo Club.

He married Phoebe née Peiris in 1942 and they had a family of three. Their daughter, Lahari, born in 1943, is married. Their elder son, Gayan, born in 1944, became a doctor, while their youngest, Sarath, born in 1955, is an engineer. Perera died on 27 January 2009 and was survived by his wife and three children.

N Alan Green
Lalith Perera

The Royal College of Surgeons of England