Remembering Darrel Weinman — Surgeon and Doctor Extraordinary

Ranji Wikramanayake, in The Island, 11 November 2018 …. and also in

Darrel Weinman attended St. Peter’s College Colombo where he was a brilliant student & excelled at sport. He was the school cricket captain. A few years ago when a mutual friend, Dr.Tony Don Michael passed away, I informed him. He said, “He was my protégé”. Tony played cricket for the school, under Darrel.

He was a good student & I am reliably informed by his classmate (from 2nd year St. Peters ) Dr. Derrick Nugara who graduated with  him, that he qualified with 1st class honours. I didn’t know him as a student as he was a few years senior to me, but in 1957, when he was studying for the primary FRCS, he borrowed a box of pathology slides from me. Needless to say, he passed first & won the Hallet prize.

We met next in London in 1960 when he was studying for the FRCS & I, the MRCP. We both returned to Ceylon in 1962, after passing our exams, to begin our careers at the General Hospital Colombo. I was appointed to the OPD, as Physician in 1964 & we did see a lot of each other.

But it was in 1968 that our close friendship began when Dr. George Ratnavale, Neurologist, took six months off. I had to act for him. Fortunately. after my MRCPE I had spent three months at the Maida Vale Hospital, post graduate Neurology course with some of Britain’s foremost Neurologists. I remember, in particular presenting to Lord Russell Brain. This helped me to fit in easily to the job. We immediately set up a partnership, me the acting Neurologist & he, the Neurosurgeon. To say that he was brilliant is an understatement. We would do weekly joint ward rounds with our junior staff.

A new close relationship then began. At least two or three times a week, the two if us would go out in the evening and have dinner (just the two of us). We would start at the Officers’ Mess at Galle Face, He was in the army, then on to the Akase Kade or GOH (names fade!). All the waiters knew Weinman Mahattaya! The routine after dinner was that we would visit the NSU (sometimes at midnight). He wanted to review the patients he had operated on that morning. Such was the dedication of the man. Many nurses would be sleeping on the floor, not knowing that the boss was visiting!

It was at that time, his romance blossomed. His junior, Brinda & he fell in love. It was quite a romance. Rumour has it that when Brinda was a student, she had said, “One day I will marry Darrel Weinman”. Only Brinda can confirm this. They lived happily married for almost 50 years.

He used to come home for my children’s birthdays. On one occasion, I was giving a talk to the post graduate institution on Diabetes which he attended. After the talk he came to me & said, “You are mad, giving your secrets away”!

I left for UK in 1970. About 1973, Brinda came to London to sit her FRCS. Darrel accompanied her. They paid me a visit at my house in London. During the day, we took them to the races at Royal Ascot. We were near the stables when the Queen came round. Darrel, the army man, stood to attention & saluted the queen. I was quite amused. In the night, they came home for dinner. After dinner, he & I sat in a room, the others in the next room. After a few drinks, he became quite emotional & said “I will go wherever you go. “We were both contemplating moving to Australia

In 1975, I got a job as Consultant Physician to the Royal Prince Alfred Sydney. He wrote to me suggesting, that if I came over, we could start a group practice. Me as the physician, Brinda as the surgeon & he, the neurologist. As I had a hospital appointment, I had to turn down the offer.

We arrived in Sydney in Feb. 1975. Two days after we arrived, he came home & drove us around the eastern suburbs particularly, Bondi Beach. We remained close & often visited each other.

His love was Neurosurgery. It was difficult to get a teaching hospital post as a neurosurgeon. He was appointed Neurosurgeon to Canterbury & Bankstown hospitals. But neither had an ICU to look after neurosurgical patients. So, after some time he turned his talents to General Practice. He had a huge practice & his patients loved him.

The last occasion we probably met was when out mutual friend, Dr. Tony Don Michael visited Sydney. He stayed with me & one evening we went to Darrel’s for dinner. Darrel was a gifted pianist & played by ear. After dinner, Darrel sat at the keyboards, Tony (a brilliant tenor) & all of us had a typical Sri Lankan “Sing song”

I had cardiac surgery in 2015 & now don’t drive much. Never at night. So although we spoke about getting together, it never happened.

He was a wonderful man, brilliant Neurosurgeon. Cared for his patients & loved his wife.

He will be sadly missed



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One response to “Remembering Darrel Weinman — Surgeon and Doctor Extraordinary

    I read Ranji’s eulogy with great interest. I am aware that Ranji and Darrel were close friends. My first recollection of Darrel was in 1946 when he was playing cricket for St.Peters against St. Thomas’. Darrel scored a century and we were wiped out.
    My next recollection of Darrel was nearly 30 years later. A few years after we arrived in Australia jn 1971 I started getting shooting pains along the outer part of my left thigh. It then went completely numb. I went and saw a Burgher surgeon who told me that I had migrants anxiety neurosis. The pain then increased in intensity and then became excruciating. I saw an orthopaedic surgeon in Melbourne who advised me to sleep on the ground. I then saw a neuro-surgeon and he arranged for me to be operated on 26th January 1975. As I am a number 8 subject I decided to postpone the operation. I telephoned Ranji and he suggested that I go up to Sydney and see Darrel Weinman who had arrived in Australia recently. I went up to Sydney on the Queens N=Birthday week-end on Friday13th June 2005 and saw Darrel. He sawme that night and arranged to operate on me the next day. He diagnosed that I had a loose nerve in my hip which was running along my groin and causing excruciating pain – miralgaeya parathesia. There were no rooms available until Tuesday 17th june – no.8. But I went ahead and Darrell relieved me of the pain I had suffered from for 3 years. I can never thank him enough. No.8 has turned out be vey lucky for me.

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