A Tribute from PeMSAA-UK: Peradeniya Medical School Alumni Association of UK (PeMSAA-UK) Executive Committee and the association’s members are profoundly saddened by the loss of one of our alumnus Dr Anton Sebastianpillai who volunteered to work with COVID19 patients in the frontline at Kingston Hospital, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey UK where he unfortunately contracted the illness.
Dr Sebastianpillai, was a retired Consultant Physician, but decided to go back from retirement following the call for volunteers from UK General Medical Council (GMC) to assist in the current unprecedented COVID19 crisis. It is a testament for his dedication and commitment for caring for people that he put himself
selflessly in the frontline caring for these gravely ill patients.
In addition to his illustrious career in Medicine Dr Sebastianpillai had been an avid collector of rare and antique religious bronzes, figurines, books, stamps and coins personally researched with passion and expertise acquiring through decades of collector’s experience.
He has also authored many sought after books such as “A Dictionary of the History of Medicine”, “The Illustrated History of Sri Lanka”, “Dates in Medicine” and a few more.
Dr Sebastianpillai was a man of many interests and talents yet a modest and humble human being. He was a great supporter of PeMSAA-UK and we will miss his support and presence during the future events.
His demise would be missed not only by his close loving family but also the medical professionals and many more around the globe.
PeMSAA-UK would like to extend our sincere condolences to his wife Vasantha and children.
Dr Krish T Radhakrishnan
President (2018), PeMSAA-UK
A Tribute from PeMSAA, Peradeniya
We were deeply saddened to hear the unexpected passing of Dr. Anton Sebastianpillai. He had been a pride to Sri Lanka and an illustrious member of PeMSAA. We, the council of PeMSAA extend our deepest sympathies to his family. He would be in our thoughts and prayers.
Please stay safe all of you during this period of darkness.
Dr. Vasana Kiridana
Secretary/ PeMSAA (2020)
Faculty of Medicine Peradeniya
Tel: +94 817 200129
An appreciation to Dr. Anton Sebastian
Dr. Anton Sebastian, fondly known to many as Thilagar fell a victim to CORONA-VD-19 in London, U.K. on April 04, 2020 while volunteering to work for the British NHS at the Kingston Hospital in London. He was a retired Consultant Physician in London but answered the call from NHS to serve the needy at a time of great crisis in the country. While treating an infected patient he contacted the virus and succumbed.
Thilagan, born in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka, on January 23, 1945 to Dr. Gregory and Josephine Sebastiampillai, studied at St. Sylvester’s College and qualified from the Peradeniya University as a Doctor of Medicine in 1967. His father was a Registered Medical Practitioner Known as Apothecary in earlier times. He had retired early to run a Nursing Home which catered to the needy in the city. While in the University, Thilagan met a charming girl, Vasanthy Reginald, a University student and later married her.
After a short stint in the Northern town of Jaffna as a Medical Practitioner, Thilagan moved to London U.K. after the civil riots of 1983 with his family. He later qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London and worked for a short while with the NHS. When he got a good job offer from a leading hospital in the city of Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he accepted the offer and worked there for more than a decade. He was a well-known Physician
in the Kingdom even treating members of the Royal family. On his return to London, he became a Consultant Physician and soon became widely known for his prowess and even had a clinic down Harley Street, the centre of eminent Physicians.
Thilagan was a Doctor of Medicine but did not confine himself to Medicine. While always tending the sick he found time to engage in several hobbies and literary efforts. He authored several books on medicine including one titled ‘History of Medicine’ which was a pioneer effort by a Doctor of Medicine. This apart, his hobbies included other fields like collection of ancient books, coins antiques, stamps and what not. You will find shelves and shelves of well- bound books in his spacious home in Surbiton, Surrey. On my last visit to his home around five years back, I was treated to a fiesta of all his collections which included classic old cars. His collection actually astounded me. It struck me that he is one who could squeeze a 48 hour work into a 24 hour day. Amidst his encompassing work, he would find time to enjoy music and play the Piano to relax with his family. He was a dedicated family man.
After retirement, Thilagan developed a passion for history and decided that he should explore the history of his motherland Sri Lanka. He went to Sri Lanka and toured the island even visiting several Buddhist temples and monasteries and spending the nights there. He told me that he was warmly received at every Temple he visited and had the opportunity to refer to ancient Ola books. After a painstaking effort which was really herculean, he came out with a real masterpiece ‘An Illustrated History of Sri Lanka’, a massive volume of historical data which virtually stunned all readers. How he could have assembled all the data that had gone into this book remains a wonder. Medicine and History are poles apart but in Thilagan’s life the poles had met. The book which had earned the encomiums of historians, academics, professionals and even politicians has seen four editions, all of which were sold out in no time.
Thilagan was a Director of ‘Goodness Foundation’, a worldwide institution formed to assist under-privileged people. Under this institution, he took the initiative in setting up a school in the village of Mathagal ( from where his wife hailed) where needy students are taught computer and other skills like typing, sewing and tailoring free of charge. He was a visionary indeed.
God had blessed Thilagan with an intellect and abundant talents and skill all of which he has used for the benefit of humanity. More than that, God has also bestowed on him noble qualities of humility, equanimity, compassion and genuine love for fellow human beings irrespective of class or status all of which were always part of his life. Eventually he died, as he lived, for others.
His death is an irreparable tragedy to his grieving family but they can take comfort from the fact that he is being hailed by thousands as one who had sacrificed his life in the service of humanity.
May His Soul Rest in Peace and let the earth lie softly on his turf forever.
Benedict Thomas (Benny)