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Friendship with Sir Roy is a touching read

An art expert who became a close friend of the Addenbrooke’s transplant pioneer, Sir Roy Calne, has given a fascinating insight into the surgeon’s love of painting.

Sir Roy and Dame Shalini Amerasinghe Ganendra
Sir Roy and Dame Shalini Amerasinghe Ganendra

Dame Shalini Amerasinghe Ganendra has sent the Trust an article explaining how, following a chance meeting in Malaysia in 1998, they worked together on five exhibitions over two decades and became “kindred spirits”.

She reveals how Sir Roy’s interest in painting began in his childhood, but it was an encounter with famed Scottish artist, John Bellany, that really took his talents to new heights.

She explains how Sir Roy, who died in January this year aged 93, painted “wherever he went, and he went everywhere”, and captured everything from patients and landscapes to dancers, footballers, and trapeze artists.

The article is published on the CUH Arts webpage to coincide with a staff celebration of the life and professional achievements of Sir Roy.

Sir Roy undertook the UK’s the first successful liver transplant operation at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge in 1968. In December 1986, while a surgeon at Addenbrooke's, he undertook the world's first liver, heart, and lung transplant with John Wallwork at Papworth Hospital.

He was the first to use drugs to help stop the rejection of donated organs, leading to a major expansion of organ grafting worldwide.

Dame Shalini Amerasinghe Ganendra is a long-standing art collector and scholar based in Kuala Lumpur. In 2022, the Amerasinghe Ganendra Collection gifted works by Sir Roy Calne to Addenbrooke’s, and today they hang in the transplant unit as a reminder Sir Roy’s versatility and curiosity.