Media releases

Focus on hope and abilities at spinal cord injury awareness event

Hospital event celebrates achievements of past patients

Friday, September 8 2017

Hundreds of people sustain spinal cord injuries each year in South Africa and while these injuries can be life changing, they do not detract from the individual’s ability to make their mark in society.

This is the message of hope that was celebrated at an event held at Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital in Johannesburg recently to commemorate Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day.

“Every year, the dedicated multidisciplinary healthcare professionals at Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital provide treatment, nursing care and rehabilitative therapies to many people who have suffered this kind of injury,” says Dr Virginia Wilson, Chairperson of the Southern African Spinal Cord Association, who practises at the hospital.

“Many of the patients we see are able to make considerable progress and achieve goals that they never thought possible at the start of their journey with us. The aim of our Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day event is to share these successes with others to show how much can be achieved with rehabilitation.”

The spinal cord consists of tens of thousands of nerve fibres that carry messages to and from the brain. A spinal cord injury causes damage to these nerve fibres, and can potentially cause the individual to lose the use of their limbs as well as sensation in affected areas. The spinal cord does not have to be severed in order to affect the body’s functions. In fact, in by far the majority of cases, it is damaged rather than severed.

Dr Wilson says that the International Spinal Cord Society, with which the local association is affiliated, chose the theme ‘Yes, We Can’ for this year’s awareness campaign.

“The theme conveys an especially important message of hope and motivation, particularly for those who are still coming to terms with their injury. Physical rehabilitation can go a long way in terms of improving the prognosis for someone with a spinal cord injury and helping them to make the most of their abilities. The mindset of the individual is, however, an extremely significant factor in the progress they are able to make,” Dr Wilson observes.

A number of Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital’s former patients gave testimonials at the event, to demonstrate the headway they have made since sustaining spinal cord injuries.

“There have been so many phenomenal stories, and by sharing these with our current patients and their families we hope that they will draw inspiration to achieve their own goals. People with spinal cord injuries can be active members of their communities, pursue many different career options, accomplish life goals and have fulfilling relationships and life experiences,” she asserts.

Joe Sandows, general manager of the hospital, adds that spinal cord injury patients at Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital have access to a multidisciplinary team to support them, including the services of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, an orthotist and a dietitian.

 “Our hospital has shared in so many people’s personal milestones on their paths to recovery and rehabilitation. The spinal cord injury awareness day is a wonderful opportunity to dispel misconceptions about life after such injuries and show that people can live empowered and enriching lives after life-changing spinal trauma, particularly when they are holistically supported,” Sandows observes.

E-News Channel Africa (eNCA) online journalist and para-cyclist, Palesa Manaleng, shared her story at the event. Since being paralysed as a result of a spinal cord injury sustained in a bicycle accident in 2014, she has excelled in hand cycling, having represented South Africa in Para-cycling World Cups in 2015 and 2016.

“After my injury, I wanted to go back to being a journalist and competing as an athlete, and now I do. I work full time at eNCA as an online writer, working overnight knocking off at 4am and sometimes getting home at 5am but without fail in the morning I am at the gym or on a treadmill or cycling,” she said.
Manaleng is determined to make the most of every opportunity and refuses to let physical limitations define her. “I decided that I was not my legs, and nothing or no one was going to take away my freedom, not without a fight,” she asserts.
She is now working towards her dream of representing South Africa at the 2020 Paralympics.

“All I am saying is that life after a spinal cord injury is not easy, you’ll have more obstacles than you had before but that doesn’t mean that you need to give up on life or stop chasing your dreams. Just keep rolling,” she concluded.


Issued by:    MNA on behalf of Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw or Alison         Sharp
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
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Donated colostrum and human milk enables 995g prematurely born baby to go home

Baby Tayla is reunited with her family after a 75 day stay in neonatal ICU

Monday, September 4 2017

It was a bitter-sweet moment for nursing staff in the neonatal intensive care unit at Netcare Alberlito Hospital, when they said their goodbyes to prematurely born Tayla Grace Christie who, weighing a mere 995 grams at birth, was recently discharged after spending the first 75 days of her life in their care.

Doctors had to deliver Tayla early, at 31 weeks, when she was diagnosed with extreme intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), a condition in which a baby's growth slows or stops while in the womb.

After her birth, Elrize Kruger, Tayla’s mother was unable to produce enough colostrum to feed her fragile little baby and the tiny neonate’s weight dropped to just 805 grams within a few days after birth. It was then that Netcare stepped up to offer to supply donor colostrum and human milk from their Ncelisa human milk bank facilities to provide Tayla with the much needed boost which would not only help her to survive but to gain sufficient weight.

Produced by a mother in the initial days after birth, colostrum provides not only perfect nutrition tailored to the exact needs of a newborn, but also contains high concentrations of antibodies, which can destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

“Babies who are compromised in some way or another receive the most benefit from age appropriate human milk, particularly colostrum, and this can play an invaluable role in speeding up growth and recovery, ensuring these babies can go home to their families much sooner,” explains Sr Eloise Strydom, unit manager of Netcare Alberlito Hospital’s neonatal ICU.

“And while it is completely normal for babies to lose some weight after birth, premature babies are particularly vulnerable to infection and various other complications. Very underweight babies also struggle to maintain their body temperature. So by feeding Tayla exclusively on colostrum initially and then later on donated human milk, the aim was to get her to gain as much weight, as quickly as possible,” she explains.

In addition to colostrum and human milk, baby Tayla was kept in a protective bubble so-to-speak, with her incubator being covered with a layer of cling film, to assist in keeping her warm and shielding her from noise and light.

“It is extremely traumatic for babies who come into the world prematurely as they face an almost complete sensory overload. It is very important to ensure that their surroundings are as stress-free as possible. The neonatal ICU is therefore kept as warm and quiet as possible, with subdued lighting. The addition of a layer of cling film to the incubator promotes the comforting feeling of being back in the womb,” adds Sr Strydom.

Commenting on the sometimes difficult road she travelled with the neonatal nursing staff and baby Tayla, Kruger says she is overjoyed to finally be able to take her daughter – now weighing 2,1 kg – home.  

“I cannot thank the nursing staff enough for all the care and support they showed our family. The work these nurses do can only be described as phenomenal. Not only do they treat these babies as they would their own, but the advice and encouragement they give to the families plays an invaluable role in lessening the burden on a seemingly long and difficult journey,” she recounts.

“Despite her time outside the womb, Tayla is in real time just three weeks old, but thanks to the colostrum and human milk is as plump as any neonate can be. The hospital has also supplied me with an additional human milk supply. It was hard saying goodbye to such a wonderful support structure at the hospital but I will think of the nursing team every time I put on the classical music I played to Tayla in the neonatal ICU.”

As a mother to a prematurely born baby of her own, nursing neonates is something that is particularly close to Sr Strydom’s heart. “I can truly relate to what these mothers go through, and I know that it is not always easy. Every time we send one of these tiny babies home it is extremely gratifying, and it makes what we as nurses do all the more worthwhile.

“Going forward I am tremendously excited about the fact that we now have access to donated colostrum for the first time, and baby Tayla is living proof that it can make a real difference in assisting compromised babies to grow and thrive until they reach the stage that they are strong enough to go home,” she adds.

After initially being fed via a tube, Tayla received supplementary feeding via a syringe after a few weeks and then later with the aid of a bottle until she was ready at around 60 days for the tube to be removed completely.

“Fortunately she had an extremely good sucking action from birth, which helped a lot. However, it is still extremely stressful experience for any family to go through and all I can really say to other mothers of premature babies is to stay strong and take it one day at a time,” says Kruger.

Weighing a mere 995g at birth, prematurely born Tayla Grace Christie, was fed donated colostrum and human milk from Netcare’s Ncelisa human milk bank facilities to assist her to gain weight as quickly as possible.

Commenting on Netcare’s recent initiative to extend its human milk bank service offering to include colostrum donations for babies in critical need, Linda Pretorius, Netcare’s human milk bank co-ordinator, says the purpose of the in-house Netcare Ncelisa human milk banks is to ensure that as many babies as possible receive age appropriate milk.

“In addition to complying with the stringent regulations set out by the South African Department of Health requiring human milk to be tracked and traced from donor to recipient, the aim of our Netcare Ncelisa human milk banks is to closely align the donor-recipient matching process to ensure better outcomes for these vulnerable babies,” she says.

According to Pretorius their research only uncovered one other project to collect and store, namely in Greece, which meant they had to do a great deal of their own research and development. The system and technology behind the now up-and-running Ncelisa human milk banks is, as a result, wholly South African sourced and developed.

“Part of our research involved approaching experts at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute who have working knowledge of the bovine colostrum pasteurisation process that currently takes place in the bovine milk banks present on various dairy farms around the country.

“As it turns out the pasteurisation process is in fact very similar when it comes to human breastmilk, and based on that we recruited a team of local technical experts to develop both the pasteuriser, storage facilities, as well as the online donor-to-recipient tracking system, thereby putting Netcare and South Africa at the forefront of human colostrum and human milk bank expertise,” concludes Pretorius.



Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Ncelisa
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw or Alison Sharp
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
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Complex tissue transplantation procedure saves KwaZulu-Natal man’s leg

Netcare Alberlito Hospital surgeons perform a successful first for the facility

Friday, September 1 2017

A 37-year-old KwaZulu-Natal man who had suffered a crush injury to his left lower leg, was discharged from hospital recently after having undergone a highly intricate, almost 10-hour, microsurgical free tissue transfer operation.

Mr Senzo Mbuyazi was delighted to be able to go home from Netcare Alberlito Hospital on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast after spending close on a month in hospital. He had suffered the devastating crush injury in July, which had resulted in a compound fracture of his both his tibia and fibula bones.

"Photo: Mr Senzo Mbuyazi and scrub sister, Sr Krivani Veerasamy, at Netcare Alberlito Hospital."

“The surgical and medical teams are thrilled with the outcome of the procedure,” says Dr Trishan Pillay, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who practises at the hospital. “Mr Mbuyazi’s exposed bone was completely covered by the transplanted tissue, and the nerves and tissue were integrating and healing well by the time he was discharged,” he adds.

“The new tissue will also enable the healing of the bone and we expect Mr Mbuyazi to have the full function of his leg restored within approximately five weeks.”

Dr Pillay says that, although the free tissue transfer procedure is not a new operation, it is highly complex requiring a multidisciplinary team that is trained in the technique. “It is the first time that the procedure has been completed at Netcare Alberlito Hospital and it undoubtedly assisted in saving the patient’s leg,” he adds.

Dr Pillay explains that the free tissue transfer operation involves transplanting living tissue from one region of the body to another and enables the reconstruction of complex injuries such as that experienced by Mr Mbuyazi.

He says that this type of surgery is extremely difficult owing to the complexity and intricacy of the blood and vascular, or circulatory, system. “It requires long hours in the operating room and a very steady hand as well as specialised microsurgical instrumentation and other equipment, including a high powered microscope, all of which we have at our disposal at the hospital.”

The KwaZulu-Natal man was first stabilised at Netcare The Bay Hospital, in Richard’s Bay, following his injury before being transferred to Netcare Alberlito Hospital for treatment.

“Initially the wound was still contaminated with some necrotic, or dead, tissue and debris. It therefore required a number of debridements, or procedures to remove this tissue, until the wound was healthy and ready to be closed,” observes Dr Pillay.

“The lower leg is a very difficult area to reconstruct owing to the limited tissue available that can be used to transfer to the wound. The international gold standard treatment option for this area is a free tissue transfer, so after careful consideration of all options, the team elected to go this route.”

The operation involved a multidisciplinary team that included Dr Sachin Baba, a resident orthopaedic surgeon at Netcare Alberlito Hospital, anaesthetist, Dr Leraj AK Lekha, and plastic and reconstructive surgeons, Dr Trishan Pillay and Dr Desigan Pillay.

During the procedure, Dr Baba had to repair and secure the bones using a fixator frame before the plastic and reconstructive surgeons could undertake the free tissue transfer to repair the wound and cover the exposed bone.

Mr Mbuyazi was taken to theatre on the 28th of July for a ‘free anterior lateral thigh flap’ procedure, which involved the transfer of a ‘flap’, or tissue that includes all blood vessels and muscles, from his right thigh to the site of his wound on his left lower leg.

“A flap is tissue that contains its own blood supply and can be composed of skin only, muscle only, or a combination of skin, muscle and bone,” explains Dr Pillay. “As in this case, a flap can be used to close wounds and defects in the body that occur due to trauma or tumour removal.

After the transfer of the tissue, the vessels of the flap were surgically connected to the patient’s anterior tibial artery, the main artery that runs down into the lower leg, as well as to local veins.

“The big difference between normal flaps and the free flap that was used in this case, is that the free flap involves disconnecting the flap with all of its blood vessels from one part of the body and moving it to a completely different site on the body.”

After the procedure and a period of recovery, the patient received rehabilitation, including physiotherapy from the hospital’s physiotherapist, Bhavisha Morar.

“Mr Mbuyazi made a strong recovery and the hospital staff and doctors are gratified that he could be discharged home in good spirits,” says Dr Augusta Dorning, general manager of Netcare Alberlito Hospital and Netcare KwaZulu-Natal region’s business development manager. “His progress will be closely monitored by his team of doctors and we wish him a speedy recovery.”

“The medical team that performed this procedure, including the plastic and reconstructive surgical team of brothers, Dr Trishan Pillay and Dr Desigan Pillay, as well as orthopaedic surgeon Dr Baba, deserve the highest praise. Together they successfully completed what is an extremely intricate procedure requiring the very highest levels of skill.

“It is most gratifying to know that we have the necessary expertise and technology at Netcare Alberlito Hospital to assist our patients who have suffered such complex injury,” concludes Dr Dorning.



Issued by:    MNA on behalf of Netcare Alberlito Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:  (011) 469 3016
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Netcare Pholoso Hospital recognised as the top private hospital in Limpopo

Netcare Pholoso Hospital

Wednesday, August 30 2017

Following completion of its annual survey in the Limpopo province, consulting, research and risk management company, has awarded Netcare Pholoso Hospital a Diamond Arrow Award – the highest possible rating – in the private hospitals category.

The awards ceremony took place earlier this month at the Sun Meropa Conference Centre in Polokwane.

Photo: Sydney Masalla, general manager of Netcare Pholoso Hospital accepting the Diamond Arrow Award that the hospital received for its service excellence and innovation.

The awards are the culmination of a research process whereby companies and institutions were rated against what they have done to enhance the economic growth and development of the province, their level of managerial expertise, implementation of corporate governance, brand awareness, and innovation.

The managing director of Netcare’s hospital division, Jacques du Plessis, congratulated the doctors practising at the hospital as well as the staff members and the management on the external recognition for organisational excellence.

“In the two years since its opening, Netcare Pholoso Hospital has established itself as an integral part of Polokwane and the greater Limpopo province and made a significant impact in clinical excellence and service delivery to the community,” says Du Plessis.

Commenting on the award, Sydney Masalla, general manager of Netcare Pholoso Hospital said:  “We are honoured to have been recognised as the top private hospital in the Limpopo province. This award serves as affirmation that the team at the hospital is doing an exceptional job in upholding and delivering on Netcare’s values of care, dignity, participation, truth and passion. I would like to thank our supporting doctors and hospital staff for their on-going commitment to quality care and patient satisfaction.”

“The fact that the awards are based on positive feedback from people in our province makes it all the more special. We are grateful for the support we’ve had from the community, and are committed to continue providing our patients with professional, patient-centred care,” he concludes.



Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Pholoso Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw and Alison Sharp
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
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Unpacking the many benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding holds significant value for mom and baby

Wednesday, August 30 2017

While the important presence of disease fighting antibodies in breastmilk is most commonly mooted by experts as the biggest benefit of breastfeeding, Dr Leneque X Lindeque, an obstetrician and gynaecologist practising at Netcare Alberlito Hospital, says that while this is certainly true, there are many additional advantages to breastfeeding that are often overlooked.

“It is important to emphasise that breastfeeding holds significant value for both mother and baby. That is why on-going education is important as many women are still unaware of its multiple benefits,” she says.

A healthier baby overall
Dr Lindeque highlights the following benefits of breastfeeding:
“Incidences of pneumonia, colds and viruses as well as gastrointestinal infections such as diarrhoea are greatly reduced. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and certain cancers are also less likely to occur in breastfed infants. In addition research indicates that the IQ and development of your baby is significantly improved.
“Breastmilk assists with the transfer of the mother’s immune system and fills an ‘immunological gap’ while the infant’s immune system is still immature. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop allergies, with research further indicating a better antibody response to vaccines. Your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is also reduced by about half,” she explains.

A health boost for mother
According to Dr Lindeque, breastfeeding not only provides protection against the development of pre-menopausal breast cancer but also reduces the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers. “And because lactating women absorb calcium more efficiently, they run less of a risk of developing post-menopausal osteoporosis.
“Another major benefit is that women experience better healing post-delivery. Not only does the uterus return to its original size sooner if breastfeeding is initiated soon after birth, but it also reduces the chances of harmful bleeding. It has also been documented that women who have had caesarean sections heal faster,” she adds.

Dr Lindeque points out that regular breastfeeding around the clock during the first few months after birth can delay menstruation and therefore serves as a form of birth control. “However, this is not one hundred percent reliable and women should not see this as a fool-proof alternative to birth control,” she advises.

Considering that the production of breastmilk can burn up to 400 calories in a day, breastfeeding is a completely natural way of promoting weight loss and, according to Dr Lindeque, significantly enhances a mother’s bonding with baby and reduces the likelihood of the mother suffering from post-partum anxiety and depression.
"Last but not least breastfeeding is convenient and economical. Breastmilk is always readily available at the right temperature and without the hassle of having to sterilise bottles. And of course it is significantly cheaper than formula milk.

“Ultimately it is important to emphasise that although breastfeeding is natural, it is not always easy to initiate. In instances where the mother is struggling, I would encourage them to contact their healthcare provider or a registered lactation consultant for help and support rather than choosing to stop breastfeeding,” she concludes.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Alberlito Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw or Alison Sharp
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,,, or


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Cochlear implant will help Durban’s ‘Little Fighter’ to hear for the first time

Egan Pillay’s brave journey inspires

Tuesday, August 29 2017

For someone who has not even turned two yet, Egan Pillay of Durban has already had to overcome some formidable healthcare challenges in his short life.

The 22-month-old has suffered a life-threatening heart condition, undergone two heart repair operations, overcome a bout of yellow jaundice, been diagnosed with profound deafness and has now had a cochlear device implanted which will assist him to hear for the first time.

Pic: The ‘little fighter’, Egan Pillay,  with Dr Viljee Jonker, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, Johannesburg, where Egan was treated for a heart condition prior to his cochlear implantation at Netcare uMhlanga Hospital. Egan was the first patient to benefit from Netcare uMhlanga Hospital’s new cochlear programme. 

“Our family fondly calls Egan the ‘Little Fighter’ because of everything he has had to deal with,” says his proud father, Kreason Pillay. “No child should have to endure what Egan has during his young life, yet he has done so with the greatest courage, bouncing back cheerfully from every one of the considerable obstacles he has faced. Egan is a great gift and an inspiration to our family, and we are so grateful to have him in our lives.”

Egan recently became the first patient to receive a cochlear implantation at Netcare uMhlanga Hospital, as part of a new cochlear programme to assist in tackling the problem of deafness in the province. His is also the first such procedure to be performed at a Netcare hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Yougan Saman, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon who practises at Netcare uMhlanga Hospital and was part of the team that implanted Egan’s cochlear device, says that the procedure was completed successfully and the device will be turned on four to six weeks from now, once he has fully recovered from the surgery.

“It is most advantageous to implant a cochlear device in children before the age of three, so that the child is able to develop their ‘hearing’ with the aid of the device while they are still at a critical stage of their development,” he explains.

“Egan has a wonderful temperament and is an inspirational little boy and it was most gratifying for the team at Netcare uMhlanga Hospital to be involved in his treatment and to see him doing so well,” adds Dr Saman.

He says that Egan weighed just 8.5 kilogrammes at the time of the procedure, and is one of the smallest children to have received a cochlear implantation. His procedure was also unusual in that he was fitted with a Med-El cochlear device that is friendly for use with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanning technology.

“With his heart condition, Egan may have to undergo MRI in the future. We therefore had to implant a device compatible with such technology, as it would not be an option to remove the implant every time Egan required a scan.

“Egan’s family have shown great determination in finding him the necessary assistance, which bodes well for his future development. This is because he will require follow up therapies and much dedication from his parents to assist him to develop his hearing and speech into the future,” says Dr Saman.

“Egan was groggy following the implantation procedure,” relates his father. “His eyes were also swollen so that he couldn’t see, which he found very distressing, and I had to hold him throughout the night to keep him calm. I was grateful for the assistance of a wonderful nurse at Netcare uMhlanga Hospital that night.

“By the morning the swelling had subsided, and he was ecstatic to see again and soon we were walking through the ward together. I remember he was particularly captivated by a fish mural that he spotted in the hospital and I knew he was rapidly recovering his strength.”

“Our family is so very grateful to all of the doctors, healthcare professionals, nurses and everyone who has supported us as a family and who made it possible for him to be here with us today.

Egan was born at Netcare Parklands Hospital on 2 October 2015. “He lived up to his nickname of the ‘Little Fighter’ from the time he entered the world,” points out Pillay. “While in the nursery after birth, a diligent nurse alerted paediatrician, Dr Japie F Roos, of Egan’s laboured breathing which sounded more like grunting.”

“Dr Roos immediately had Egan transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit. It was discovered that Egan had a heart condition. With a weakened immune system, he also developed jaundice, which was successfully treated.”

It was recommended that Egan receive treatment for his heart condition at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital’s dedicated paediatric cardiac centre. “On 2 November 2015, Egan was transported there in an intensive care ambulance with a team of Netcare 911 paramedics in attendance,” reports Pillay.

At Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, paediatric cardiologist, Dr Kenny Govendragelo, diagnosed Egan with a coarctation (narrowing) of the aorta, and this required highly intricate surgery to repair. He underwent his first operation at the hospital on 3 November 2015 and on his discharge, came home with us for the first time since his birth.

“However, Egan had on-going problems with high blood pressure and required another operation, which was performed on 19 February 2016. He responded well to the treatment, and thereafter really started to regain his energy and come into his own,” says Pillay.

“At home, however, we noticed that Egan did not respond when we called him or tried to stimulate him with sounds,” Pillay notes. “Dr Roos made an appointment with an audiologist and it was determined that he was profoundly deaf in both ears and cochlear implantation was recommended.”

“We were referred to a terrific non-profit organisation, Hi Hopes, for assistance in dealing with Egan’s deafness, and Egan was found to be a good candidate for a cochlear implant. Our spirits were lifted by this news at what was otherwise a pretty traumatic time,” he relates.

“So many people and institutions have helped us along the way and it is impossible to express our gratitude to all of them here. We would, however, like to thank all of the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals at the various Netcare hospitals, as well as from other practices and institutions, for their assistance. Egan of course has been such a champion through all of this and he gives us strength to continue this fight to do our best for him.”

Netcare uMhlanga Hospital general manager, Marc van Heerden, says that Egan’s journey has been most remarkable. “Our staff members have been inspired by the bravery shown by this young hero and his family, who have gone to great lengths to find him the help he needed,” he adds.

“It is also most gratifying that, through the combined efforts of the medical professionals such as Dr Saman and the hospital, we are now able to offer a much needed cochlear service to our deaf patients from around the province,” concludes Van Heerden.


Issued by:    MNA on behalf of Netcare uMhlanga Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,, and


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Dedication and sacrifice see former cleaner graduate as registered nurse

Mother of three is no stranger to hard work

Wednesday, August 23 2017

Mother of three, Caroline Plaatjies, is no stranger to hard work and sacrifice. At the recent Netcare Education graduation ceremony in Cape Town, she beamed with pride at achieving her ambition of becoming a registered nurse after having passed her Bridging Course II with honours.

“I started out as a theatre cleaner at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital in 2008, and I would see the nurses and the work they do in helping people. I admired them so much, and I longed to be able to care for patients as a nurse. I thought, if they can do it then I can do it,” says Sr Plaatjies.

Photo:" Sr Caroline Plaatjies recently graduated with flying colours to fulfil her ambition of becoming a registered nurse. Pictured from left to right, are Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital nursing services manager, Sylvia Ninham, with Sr Plaatjies and the hospital general manager, Dirk Truter."

“It was not easy, I had two young children and another one on the way. My husband was unemployed, but I kept working as a cleaner and each month we would have to make sacrifices as a family to save up enough money for me to begin my nursing studies. It was hard for us, but you do what you have to do to work towards your dreams.”

At the Netcare Education graduation ceremony, Sr Plaatjies received a number of accolades for her academic performance. She received the Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital Award, the Professional Development Trophy and a silver medal for her academic performance in both the Bridging I and Bridging II courses.

“It was a great honour to receive these awards, and it has motivated me to keep working hard and study further. My dream is to obtain a PhD in nursing in the next 10 years.”

Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital general manager, Dirk Truter, praised Sr Plaatjies for her tenacity in becoming a registered nurse. “From the time Caroline began working as a cleaner at the hospital, she distinguished herself. Punctual, compassionate, diligent and caring, she has always had a positive attitude and continues to motivate other staff members with her work ethic,” he observes.

“Sr Plaatjies has a wonderfully caring nature, and is a favourite with our patients. When she became an enrolled nurse, her manager noticed her ability to integrate her knowledge and skills to plan her patients’ care.

“As she progressed through the ranks, Sr Plaatjies earned the respect of her managers, doctors and nursing colleagues. She is always respectful of others and has made a great contribution to the hospital and its patients, both in her capacity as a cleaner and more recently as a nurse. She has come a long way to her current position as a shift leader, and we look forward to seeing her progress to even greater heights in the future,” he asserts.

Sr Plaatjies explains that she loves her work, and finds caring for patients extremely rewarding. “It has been a difficult road and I have had to work hard to get to this point. It has all been well worthwhile because I absolutely love my job, and I want to encourage others to follow their dreams,” she adds.

“If you have a dream, do not expect someone else to give it to you on a silver platter. You will have to work hard and make sacrifices to achieve the things you want in life. Everybody has something beautiful to contribute if they choose to make it happen. My advice to others is ‘go for it’,” Sr Plaatjies concluded.



Issued by:    MNA on behalf of Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw or Alison Sharp
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,,, or


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Why ‘tummy fat’ can be dangerous

Visceral fat and genetics are major factors in the development of type 2 diabetes

Tuesday, August 22 2017

People who tend to put on weight around the abdomen are at higher risk of developing a number of lifestyle-related diseases including type 2 diabetes, particularly if they are genetically predisposed. Dr Adri Kok, a physician practising at Netcare Union Hospital, explains why ‘tummy fat’ is a particularly concerning factor for one’s health.

“Being overweight, especially for people who carry more fat around their middle, is a sign of a high risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as cancer. This is called visceral fat, which is fat that accumulates and surrounds organs in the abdominal cavity,” Dr Kok explains.

At least 2.2 million South Africans live with diabetes, although it is believed that this figure would be significantly higher if it included undiagnosed diabetics. Many more people are prediabetic, which means that they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a health condition where a person’s body does not produce adequate amounts of insulin or cannot use insulin effectively due to insulin resistance. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, is a hormone that converts sugars from food into energy needed to conduct our daily activities.

What is visceral fat?
“Visceral fat is metabolically active, which means it releases various secretions that affect normal body functions such as blood pressure and how our bodies metabolise sugars. The hormones in our bodies regulate a number of functions including how our bodies respond to glucose from the food we eat,” she explains.

According to Dr Kok, individuals with a family history of diabetes have a significantly increased risk – up to a one-in-four chance – of developing type 2 diabetes.  

“It is advisable therefore that people, especially those who have a predisposition to diabetes, take precautions to reduce their risk as far as possible. The best measure one can take is to reduce visceral fat in an attempt to restore the healthy balance of metabolic hormones through exercise and diet,” Dr Kok adds.

People who do not realise that they are living with diabetes and are therefore not receiving appropriate treatment may develop a number of severe complications, including kidney damage and visual impairment. This is why people, particularly those who have risk factors such as a genetic predisposition, abdominal fat and who are over the age of 35, should have their blood sugar levels tested as part of an annual physical check up.

Can adult onset diabetes be prevented?
A study conducted by the Diabetes Prevention Programme of the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, found that weight loss through dietary changes and exercise, supported with motivational counselling to assist behaviour modification, reduced the participants’ risk of developing diabetes by 58%.

Dr Kok says that while this research is cause for hope, it is important to note that it only reflects a positive result for the duration of the study, rather than over the long-term. “This study must be considered in context, however it does suggest that healthy lifestyle changes and weight loss can help to at least delay the onset of diabetes in those who are particularly at risk. In combination with medicine, the outlook for certain patients may be further improved.”

Can diabetes be ‘cured’?
Dr Kok says that there is no known ‘cure’ for diabetes, however the condition can effectively be managed. “We would never say diabetes is ‘cured’, the term ‘sugar controlled’ is more accurate although even this cannot be stated on the basis of symptoms alone. One can only establish effective control by monitoring of glucose levels and the HbA1c blood test,” she notes.

“The only patients one might consider to be in remission are some of those who have undergone bariatric surgery, but again this is according to the results of blood tests rather than the absence of symptoms. Unfortunately, some of these patients were later found to have had a recurrence of the condition and the remission may not have been permanent.”

Current evidence suggests that initial insulin therapy under strict supervision may reverse the glucose toxicity and restore pancreatic function. Medication that tackles insulin resistance seems to help control glucose levels, which in turn help to prevent complications in the long run. “Newer agents, which protect the pancreas as well as medications that work independent of the pancreas, may again be effective in avoiding progression of complications by controlling glucose levels effectively. We know that early effective control results in a legacy effect, good control initially prevents complications in the long run.

Tips for reducing your diabetes risk
Lifestyle interventions can help make the body’s metabolism more efficient by reducing visceral fat and improving insulin sensitivity.

“Exercise improves the efficiency of insulin action, as it opens more receptors in the muscles. This is why it is very important to get regular exercise, especially if you are diabetic or prediabetic. The exercise must be aerobic, which means it must raise your heart rate sufficiently to burn calories. At least four or five sessions per week are advisable, and this must be maintained to be effective,” Dr Kok advises.

“Diet is also extremely helpful in controlling blood sugar levels, and it remains one of the key pillars for treatment. The emphasis is on reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates, including cane sugar and starches, as well as fat in the diet. Restricted carbohydrates greatly assist weight loss, including the proportion of particularly unhealthy visceral fat in your body. Carbonated drinks, even those labelled as ‘diet’ drinks should be avoided,” Dr Kok concluded.




Issued by:    MNA on behalf of Netcare Union Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw or Alison Sharp
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,,, or


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Two-year old’s life saved on opening day of new emergency department

First critical patient already recovering after near-death choking incident

Thursday, August 17 2017

When Patricia Claassen ran into the hospital’s emergency department clutching the limp, lifeless body of her grandson, Stefan Els, who had choked on a piece of chicken, she expected the worst.

It was the opening day of the new 24-hour emergency department at Netcare Cuyler Hospital. The newly upgraded facility is equipped with state of the art technology and has been established to provide the communities of Uitenhage, Despatch and surrounds with much-needed emergency care. The clinical aspects of facility are managed by ER Consulting Inc., an independent emergency management company.

"Pic: On the road to recovery. From left to right: Patricia Claassen; Dr Nelson Alves, chief operations officer of ER Consulting Inc. and Stefan Els together with Eleanor Wicomb and Maria van der Merwe, both registered nurses at Netcare Cuyler Hospital."

“We had just opened up our doors that morning, and up until then we had only seen patients with abrasions and minor injuries,” explains Dr Marné Page, principal clinical manager of the practice. “Stefan was the first critical patient we had to attend to.”

“When his grandmother brought him in, Stefan had no heartbeat or pulse and his pupils were dilated. Technically speaking he was clinically dead,” says Dr Page. “We immediately examined his airway, removed the obstruction and began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),” he explains.

Dr Nelson Alves, chief operations officer of the practice was also present and helped to revive the small boy. “After about five minutes of CPR Stefan began gasping for breath and his eyes began registering normally to light and movement,” says Dr Alves. “After he was stabilised Stefan was moved to the paediatric intensive care unit for further monitoring and treatment.”

Stefan’s mother, Andriette Els, says it is very difficult to describe how she felt. “I was happy, sad, relieved and shocked all at the same time. I was on my way back from work when my mom phoned and told me to come to the hospital immediately. You can’t possibly describe the feeling. Losing a child is any parent’s worst fear.

“If it was not for the doctors at Netcare Cuyler Hospital’s emergency department and the efficiency and speed they employed to assist my little boy, I don’t think he would be here today. I’m also extremely grateful to my parents-in-law who got him to the hospital so quickly,” she adds.

Shortly after his brush with death Stefan began to show signs of recovery. He has since been released and all signs indicate that he will make a full recovery.

“Children are generally very resilient in these kinds of situations,” explains Dr Page. “Stefan is recovering very well and there are no signs of any permanent damage.”

Victor Mutle, general manager of Netcare Cuyler Hospital, says the whole hospital was overjoyed that the emergency doctors were able to resuscitate Stefan. “We wish him and his family well and hope that he makes a full and speedy recovery,” says Mutle.

“Our first priority has always been to ensure that our service offering is tailored to meet the specific needs of the community we serve. It is clearly evident that the new emergency department will make an invaluable contribution to the hospital, delivering a quicker and more specialised service to our patients,” he concludes.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Cuyler Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw and Alison Sharp
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,,, or


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Interact with Netcare at the Durban MamaMagic: The Baby Expo and stand a chance to win

Netcare hospital stand No39 at MamaMagic: The Baby Expo

Thursday, August 17 2017

Netcare KwaZulu-Natal hospitals will once again be making waves at this year’s MamaMagic: The Baby Expo to be held at the Durban Exhibition Centre from 25 to 27 August 2017.

“There are a number of factors that expectant parents should consider when deciding at which hospital they would like to deliver their baby. We look forward to welcoming parents-to-be to the Netcare hospitals’ stand – number B9 – at MamaMagic: The Baby Expo, and discussing the maternity facilities and services offered at our KwaZulu-Natal hospitals with them,” says Craig Murphy, regional director of Netcare’s coastal region.

“This year, we are taking the opportunity presented by MamaMagic: The Baby Expo to educate parents on the correct way of performing CPR on babies and young children respectively. The marketing team at the Netcare KwaZulu-Natal hospitals’ stand will hand out free pamphlets detailing the cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR] techniques appropriate for use on infants and young children in emergency situations, as these differ from the technique used on adults. These easy-to-follow, step-by-step guides provide the ABC’s of CPR.

“It is our hope that the knowledge gleaned from the pamphlets will help parents to be better equipped to deal with a medical emergency, should the need ever arise.” Murphy explained.

Also exciting is a competition, with great prizes for mothers and babies alike, that Netcare will be running at the exposition. The prizes include a pregnancy photo shoot valued at over R4 200, a voucher for Mangwanani Spa to the value of R1 200 and a supply of nappies to the value of R5 000. Exposition visitors are encouraged to simply visit the Netcare stand, answer an easy question and fill in their contact details, which qualifies them to be in line to win one of these amazing prizes.

“Expectant parents in the province are spoiled for choice with our extensive KwaZulu-Natal footprint of maternity facilities. Visitors to the stand will also receive an informative brochure about the maternity offerings at Netcare Alberlito [in Ballito], Netcare St Augustine’s [in Durban], Netcare St Anne’s [in Pietermaritzburg], Netcare Kingsway [in Amanzimtoti], Netcare Margate [Margate], Netcare Parklands [in Overport, Durban], Netcare The Bay [in Richards Bay] and Netcare uMhlanga [in uMhlanga] hospitals,” Murphy concluded.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare KwaZulu-Natal hospitals
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, or Meggan Saville
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:, or


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