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'I will love you forever' - Friends and family pay tribute to British Tamil doctor

Photograph: Thamarai Connect

Tributes have been paid to a British Tamil doctor who died from coronavirus whilst on the frontlines and caring patients last week.

In a statement on the passing of Dr Anton Sebastianpillai, his son Kevin confirmed that his “beautiful father lost his battle against Covid-19”.

“He caught it serving patients in the hospital (Kingston, London) where I and many of my family were born,” he added in the message posted by Thamarai. “More than that he lived an amazing life.”

“Dear Dad, I will love you forever and I will never stop missing you.”

Dr Thuraiayah Thangathurai, a professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, called Dr Sebastianpillai “one of my close friends” in a condolence message.

“After we finished medical school, he came over to the UK and we worked together in Charing Cross Hospital at the ICU department, working with critically ill patients,” he added.

“In the early 1980s, I moved to California but we kept in touch with each other - he would come to LA and I would see him in London. When we met we would exchange medical knowledge and we both had a great passion for the history of medicine. I was shocked to hear about his passing - I've lost my close friend.”

“This is a great loss for his family and the medical world too - but he has left his legacy behind.”

Tributes have flooded in for the doctor from across the country, praising Dr Sebastianpillai’s contribution and willingness to continue to treat patients at the hospital.

"It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of Dr Anton Sebastianpillai who died on Saturday," said the Royal College of Physicians. "Another valued member of the RCP family, our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this devastating time."

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey tweeted a tribute to Dr Sebastianpillai, stating "I was privileged to meet him & discuss the NHS & Tamil history".

"Anton is hugely respected as a consultant & author: his Illustrated History of Sri Lanka is world-class," he added.

"Very sad news from Kingston Hospital," said Siobhan Benita, Liberal Democrats Mayor of London candidate. "Dr Anton Sebastianpillai, who was widely known and respected in the local community, had come out of retirement to serve again," she added. "We owe so much to our frontline health workers - their bravery and dedication is truly humbling."

The Peradeniya Medical School Alumni Association of the United Kingdom said, "We are very sad to announce the death of a Peradeniya medical School alumnus," adding that he had "retired from a career as a Consultant Physician" and "volunteered to work with Covid 19 patients in the front line at Kingston Hospital, where he contracted the illness".

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