Prof. (Dr.) Tissa Perera


Prof.Tissa Perera’s death a few weeks ago removes from the community an excellent Pathologist and an admirable human being .

His demise marks the end of an era. Tissa however was of a different milieu that produced professionals of true quality. Many of them were not driven purely by the need to acquire wealth and fame. Tissa, one feels lived according to the dictates of his conscience. He disdained ostentation and opulence.

Tissa and I met intermittently over the last decade or so. Such meetings were often at his residence at Poor warama Road, Colombo 5, within easy reach of my home.

I cherish these encounters, which helped me to learn much .Tissa was a man of few words, but they were full of wisdom and revealed that apart from medicine and the vast experience he gathered over the years on the subject, his ideas and views on a wide range of other topics.

But I need to mention that our first meetings were in a different era that was the early 1960’s.

Tissa was among a group of intellectually inclined and young professionals who met on week ends in Chapel Road, Nugegoda. This was at the residence of a graceful old lady from a traditional Buddhist family. She lived there-in with her two sons and her nephew- a school friend of mine. It was a home of culture and conviviality.

These young men were driven by idealism and somewhat abstract thoughts of life.I remember them referring to Jean Paul Satre and his famed novel ‘The Age of Reason’ first published in1961 by Penguin Books.

Satre had a positive impact on the intellectual climate of the period through existentialism his philosophy of life.

Decades later Tissa and I used to recall those days

The exposure to that atmosphere marked an early and happy learning experience and remains embedded in my memory.

Tissa was first educated at St. Johns College Nugegoda, a Christian school where education was almost entirely in the English language, ever since it was founded in 1915 and until the early 1960’s. Many leading families in Nugegoda and the periphery educated their children at St. John’s until they completed at least their primary education.

Tissa later studied at Nalanda College, Colombo. This enabled him to enter the only medical school in the country,-‘The Ceylon Medical College’ a great seat of medical education in South Asia during those post independent years.

As a Pathologist Tissa worked in what was then the country’s only medical research centre which is widely known as the M.R.I. This provided him with ample opportunity to acquire knowledge and experience in the field of Pathology,which his inquiring and searching mind sought.

Later Tissa went to U.K which enabled him to further his interest in research at some of the highly advanced research oriented institutions.

It was whilst in the U.K. that he met his wife. She proved in due course to be the ideal companion. Tissa also worked in Saudi Arabia and travelled extensively in Europe. It was in the U.K. that he was awarded the much coveted Ph.D. in Pathology.Returning to Sri Lanka he accepted an appointment as a Senior Lecturer at the newly established medical faculty in the University of Ruhuna, which islocated in the salubrious and verdant slopes of a hill in the deep south.

In due course Tissa was appointed Professor of Pathology - the pinnacle of his distinguished career .

After his retirement that he settled down to a relatively easy life in Colombo 5.

I consider it a great privilege to have been Tissa’s friend . All those who knew him bemoan the death of this rare personality.

Before I end this appreciation I wish to mention that during the final phase of his life he was engaged in writing his memoirs and I was asked to edit same.

Unfortunately I think that ill health prevented him from completing this final project of his which would have been of much value to his friends and students of medicine.

Jagath C. Savanadasa

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