Dr.Eliyathamby Sivalingam MD,FRCS. Consultant Ophthalmologist
I write this in appreciation of my teacher and close friend who passed away recently after a long illness. I came to know Dr. Sivalingam or ‘Siva’, as he was known to his friends, soon after he had returned from post-graduate training in the UK and had been appointed as Eye Surgeon, General Hospital, Kandy in 1967. At the time this was the only eye unit in the Central Province and I had opted to go to Kandy for training.I remember Siva as a human being with admirable and endearing qualities – very courteous, unassuming and soft spoken. He was a gifted teacher who loved his work and spent most of his spare time teaching and encouraged me to accomplish my own goals. He gave care and attention to all the patients who visited the eye clinic, without restriction, and was even generous enough to give money to patients for lunch, if they had to wait until afternoon before being attended to. I never saw him in anger or talk disparagingly of others. After a year in Kandy, Siva assumed duties as Surgeon, Eye Hospital, Colombo. I followed suit to continue my training. He brought to the hospital great skills and learning that influenced the quality of patient care.He was a brilliant teacher and was always willing to learn from others.He had no hesitation to seek advice from his colleagues or juniors. His attitude to work and quality of patient care was of such a high standard that his unit was the choice of those intent on pursuing postgraduate studies. He was devoted to a work ethic which he pursued without fear or favour and stood by what he believed to be right and never reluctant to express his views. In 1974, Siva emigrated to the USA for the sake of his children’s education. He began his career there as a Fellow in the Glaucoma Service, Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia and was soon appointed a staff member of the same service. He was assigned to train the residents and perform most of the surgeries. Siva’s ingenuity was soon apparent in his new professional environment too, as he developed a new surgical technique ‘Partial Punch Procedure for glaucoma, which became widely popular. During my visits to Wills Hospital, I was invited to clinical meetings as a close friend of Siva. I saw firsthand how his clinical acumen and surgical skills were highly appreciated by the staff at Wills. Siva’s exemplary life leaves much to learn from and gives each of us who were associated with him cause to celebrate the fact that we had the privilege to meet such a simple and learned man. I am personally very grateful for his guidance, as well as the knowledge and the ethical practice he imparted during my training. Siva is urvived by his wife Kamala and three children, two of whom are Ophthalmologists themselves. I hope they find strength and comfort to overcome this sad loss. May they find solace in the knowledge that fond and inspiring memories of Siva live on in the hearts and minds of all those who knew him.
Dr. Upali Mendis