You’ve probably watched those YouTube videos that restore your faith in humanity a dozen times over. The kind of videos where humans toil for hours just to save a puppy trapped under a house or a bunch of guys saving a dog stuck in a barrel of tar.
There are hardly any such videos of Sri Lankan origin on YouTube. Perhaps because, despite being a predominantly Buddhist country, we’re still not too big on animal rights or perhaps because they go unnoticed as they are the kind of people who are too modest to want any publicity for their good deeds.
Just as it is the media’s duty to be the watchdogs of society, to report corruption and injustice it also important to bring to light those little acts of altruism that may otherwise go unnoticed. Fulfilling this duty the Nation spoke to the man who restored all our faith in humanity very recently when he carried out a surgery on a cow.
It happened on March 4 while Dr Randil Pramode de Alwis, a 31-year-old surgeon attached to the Maharagama Cancer Hospital was on his way to his sister-in-law’s homecoming. Dr. De Alwis hit a three-year-old cow or rather the cow hit him at Ekala in Ja-Ela while he was driving from Welisara to Kurunegala around 8.30 in the morning.
“I saw the cow being chased by a dog,” recalled Dr de Alwis. Although he stopped his car on time and honked at the cow it hurled itself on to the hood at full speed, breaking a leg in the process. Dr. De Alwis together with the help of a few bystanders removed the cow from the road. The bone had broken and was protruding from its skin.
“I called a few vets nearby, but no one was willing to come,” said Dr de Alwis. But luckily Amila, an electro-cardiographer attached to the Colombo General Hospital came to his aid. He was dispatched to fetch the necessary medical supplies, such as nylon and a big needle, from a pharmacy. Dr de Alwis decided that the tools of Thilak, a mechanic, would have to pass off as surgical equipment.
Dr de Alwis washed the wound with about five litres of water and then reduced the fracture, which in lay terms mean setting the bone and stitched the wound. The cow who had herself suffered a fracture early in life – stood by haplessly not wishing to intervene in the ongoing surgery. The owner of the cow also made it to the scene. She was an elderly woman who watched the process with gratitude.
Dr de Alwis then wrapped it up with a Plaster of Paris and prescribed antibiotics. Only after the cow was sent off in a hand tractor did Dr de Alwis bother to even look at his car. It was damaged and arrangements were made to take it to a garage.
Dr de Alwis remembers with gratitude that all the bystanders helped in any way they could. Luckily his brother Asanga Ranil de Alwis, who made it to the scene after the accident, was able to video much of the surgery.
Dr de Alwis from Welisara admitted that he harbours no special love for animals. “But we’re all living beings,” says Dr de Alwis. He humbly dismisses suggestions that he did anything out of the ordinary, but credits his altruism to his Buddhist upbringing. Dr de Alwis has attended three schools Karunaratne Buddhist College, Welisara, Thurstan College and Ananda College, Colombo.
He is currently reading for his post graduate to become a surgeon. His family background and Sunday school education inculcated in him sentiments of kindness and compassion at an early age of life.
“Although animals can’t speak they also have feelings,” says Dr de Alwis, emphasizing why it’s important to treat animals with human kindness.