Dr Kandiah Ratnakumar FRCS Lond
15.04.1951 – 26.01.2021
Emeritus Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
Alumnus Peradeniya Medical School, University of Ceylon 1971 – 1975
Kandiah Ratnakumar hailed from the village of Chulipuram, Jaffna, Srilanka. Born; one of four siblings on the 15th April 1951, entered the Medical Faculty, Peradeniya from Jaffna Hindu College qualifying as a doctor in 1975. Patriotic as he was he left for the UK for postgraduate training with his wife after completing the compulsory period serving (while many of his contemporaries failed to comply with the expectations of the state taking off to lands alien) many parts of Srilanka with loyalty in the early eighties. He worked closely with that great son of Srilanka, the late Dr Lucky Dissanayake, from whom he learnt some of the surgical skills he was able to display later in his vocation.
He assumed the post of Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Oldchurch ( later named Queens) Hospital in 1991 where we worked as colleagues. Specialising in knee surgery he not only touched the hearts of patients and staff but also several of his social contacts making him a very open & approachable individual acting as a friend, mentor &
advisor to many within the community, including some of the leading orthopaedic consultants serving in Srilanka
undertaking postgraduate training in UK) . His school mate Dr Kumaran recalls him as quiet ,studious and helpful individual. Another grief stricken contemporary Dr Chandrasiri Abrew, retired vascular surgeon, mourning the loss, reflects with nostalgia on the times spent with the hospitable Ratna as a surgical trainee in the UK.
A Man of few words except in close circles Ratna was always a good company with a radiant smile. Although I had his acquaintance at the University it was at Oldchurch Hospital we developed closer ties as colleagues, where he and Saro became my family friends since our departure from Peradeniya.
A childhood companion who grew up with him from school days is my good friend Dr Ananthamoorthy , retired senior lecturer in dentistry at the University of Ceylon Peradeniya, now settled in Chulipuram SL. Moorthy recalls “ Ratna and myself were schoolmates, growing up together at
Pannagam Meihandan Vidyalayam where we learnt the
alphabet of our mother tongue together. Both of us moved to Victoria College Chulipuram. While I stayed on, Ratna moved to Jaffna Hindu College from where he entered the Faculty of Medicine, Peradeniya working hard with ambition and forbearance. Ratna would always make it a point to visit me whenever he visited Jaffna. Ratna never forgot his roots. He would often visit his relatives and old friends in Srilanka and was very charitable”
Although the couple planned to serve the motherland on completion of their postgraduate training in the UK, the events of July 1983 precluded their return home. Having worked in Canada for a few years the couple moved back to UK.
I vividly recall the several visits to his residence in Gants Hill when I would barge in to his residence without any
warning – An idiosyncratic habit of mine that was never
disapproved by Ratna because he just did not bother about formalities, moreover it was in the nature of the man to entertain friends at the drop of a hat, perhaps using the opportunity to share a glass of wine! Saro, too, in her typical friendly manner would tolerate such an intrusion without any fuss.His usage of the Tamil in colloquial with a distinct accent, unique to himself and the surreal sense of humour he displayed were a delight to engage with.
Ratna was married to Saro Vinasithamby, who he courted as a fellow medical student from the same year and they both took up posts in different parts of Srilanka pursuing their chosen careers in surgery and anaesthesia respectively. Saro retired after a long stint as consultant Anaesthetist in South London.
Towards retirement Ratna developed a passion for golf which he enjoyed thoroughly often hinting that I should seriously consider joining him. One of his plan for retirement was to return to Srilanka, the land he loved
He became unwell in the latter part of December 2020,
with shortness of breath, requiring hospitalisation. After
initial improvement his condition deteriorated at Whipps Cross Hospital where he lost his fight against
Covid19 on the 26th January. Saro, his soul mate companion of long years, relatives and friends awaited his return home with hope and anticipation but to no avail.
His generous gestures were not confined to friends and
relatives but extended beyond. He supported several organisations but never sought, pomp, ceremony or position but
opted to help behind the screens. In life he was an example of endurance, resilience and humility.
Saro gave him strength and purpose; joy & friendship; and stood by him always those last hardest days.
We cannot know what God’s plan is for us.
What we can do is to live our lives as best as we can with purpose and with love and with joy.
We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish ourselves, and we can strive at all costs to make a better world , so that someday , if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we know that we spent it well; so that we made a
difference. that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of others.
That is how Ratnakumar lived. That is his legacy.
“The embodied soul is eternal in existence, indestructible and infinite, only the material body is factually perishable”
The Bagvat Gita
May his soul rest in peace. Om Shanthy
Dr Sati Ariyanayagam
A friend & colleague.