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Biographical entry Paul, Arthur Terence Sahanandan (1915 - 2008)

MRCS and FRCS 1950; LMS Ceylon 1940; FRCS Edin 1948; FRCSI 1950.

5 September 1915
Colombo, Ceylon
28 April 2008
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Cardiothoracic surgeon and Thoracic surgeon


Arthur Terence Sahanandan ('A T S') Paul was a pioneering cardiothoracic surgeon in Sri Lanka. He was born on 5 September 1915 in Colombo, in what was then Ceylon, into a distinguished Tamil family. His father, Samuel Chelliah Paul, was a senior surgeon at the General Hospital, Colombo, and the first Sri Lankan to obtain the FRCS England in 1901 by examination. His mother was Dora Eleanor née Asarappa. Both his paternal and maternal grandfathers were doctors, and A T S' elder brother, Milroy Paul, was the first professor of surgery at the University of Ceylon in Colombo. A T S was educated at the Royal College, Colombo, and then went on to University College Colombo and Ceylon Medical College. He graduated in 1940 with first class honours and three distinctions. In the same year he won a prize for a drawing of Rabindranath Tagore, built both a boat and a model aeroplane, and captained the cricket team in which he was the star bowler.

From 1941 to 1946, he was a captain in the Ceylon Medical Corps, attached to the 132 Command General Hospital and then to the Ceylon Light Infantry at China Bay Trincomalee.

He was a demonstrator in anatomy at the University of Colombo in 1946. He then went to London, to King's College Hospital Medical School, where he worked under Sir Cecil Wakeley and E G Muir, and then the Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith. In 1966 he was trained by Charles A Hufnagel at Georgetown University, USA, in cardio-pulmonary bypass techniques used in open heart surgery.

In 1950, he was appointed as a surgeon to the thoracic unit, General Hospital in Colombo, the first such unit established in Ceylon, retiring in 1975. When he began work at the General Hospital there was a high incidence of tuberculosis and rheumatic heart disease, and over the course of his career he saw a remarkable development in the specialty. For many years the Colombo unit was the only cardiothoracic unit on the island, so he organised annual visits to the north, taking his entire nursing and surgical team with him. He also trained several generations of cardiothoracic surgeons, who eventually set up new units throughout Sri Lanka.

From 1975 to 1980, he was a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and a consultant surgeon at Kenyatta National Hospital, setting up the first cardiac surgery unit in Nairobi.

He was Hunterian professor of our college in 1966. Among his many publications, he wrote a self-published autobiography, My trek to the heart: a cardiac surgeon's story of adventure and endeavour between 1920 and 1980 (Colombo, 2002).

He continued to be involved in sport, playing cricket into his ninth decade, and becoming a member of motor yacht and power boat clubs. He painted in pastels and oils, and created model aircraft. In 1946 he married Marie Baptista, whom he had met while she was serving in the Indian Army Nursing Service at Trincomalee. His son, Surendramohan Chandpal Paul is a surgeon at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon. A T S Paul died on 28 April 2008 in the National Hospital, Sri Lanka, formerly the General Hospital, following a short illness.

John Blandy

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from The Times 28 July 2008].

The Royal College of Surgeons