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Later life and family

He married his university love, Dr Mapatunage Nanda Perera who hailed from Kotigangoda, Padukka,  on 11th May 1954. They were married for 65+ years, until his death in 2019. She was his strength and support in everything he did, as he was hers. Her intellect matched and complemented his. She is a retired Consultant Haematologist, a pioneer in her field in Sri Lanka. She was the Head of Pathology in the (then) General Hospital Kurunegala at the time of their marriage, and subsequently the Head of Pathology in the (then) General Hospital Kandy for many years. She had a career as illustrious as his, was the Founder President of the College of Haematologists of Sri Lanka and has many books and publications to her credit. She has, like him, been a much-revered teacher who trained many of today’s top consultants, both as medical undergraduates as well as postgraduates in Haematology.

Prem and Nanda – a lifetime of togetherness

Dr. Nanda Prematilleke, Consultant Haematologist, Kandy hospital

He has one son, born in 1957, Senior Architect Madhura Sirimevan Prematilleke, who has gained world recognition as an Architect and Urban Designer, and is the Principal of Team Architrave. Madhura, a Trinitian, studied architecture at Moratuwa and Helsinki, and has worked in Sri Lanka, Finland, India, China, Oman and the Maldives.  He has lectured at international conferences and universities. Team Architrave have won over 15 design awards and their work has been published internationally. Prof. Prematilleke’s  beloved grandchildren are Manekha and Arun. 

His daughter, Isha Varuni Prematilleke, was born in 1968. She studied at Girls High School Kandy, qualified in MBBS at Kasturba Medical College Manipal, India and did her postgraduate studies in Colombo and Peradeniya Medical Faculties, qualifying as a Consultant Histopathologist. She has been attached to the University of Sri Jayewardenepura since 1996, and is a Professor in Pathology at the Faculty of Medical Sciences. She is a teacher, researcher and author, and has work experience in Oxford, UK. 

He designed and built a beautiful, one of a kind home in Kandy, using his knowledge of ancient architecture.  

Prof. Prematilleke later moved to Colombo, necessitated mostly by health issues. In the late 90’s he lost sight in his right eye due to a cataract surgery gone wrong – this was partially salvaged at Sankara Nethralaya India. The work he did thereafter right up to his death was despite this complication. He was a diabetic for most of his life, and in his later years, suffered its complications. At the age of 86 he was diagnosed with stage I kidney cancer, for which his left kidney was removed. He also met with a severe road traffic accident at the age of 86, which caused a spinal injury, which he overcame to some degree with years of medical care and rigorous physiotherapy. He accomplished a remarkable volume of work in his later years despite these disabilities. It is to the credit of his doctors and his sheer resilience and determination that he overcame all these obstacles to continue his work right until his death at the age of 97.

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