Durban metabolic surgery centre reaches 500 procedure milestone

11 couples among those to benefit from health-affirming surgery

Monday, March 4 2019

The Durban Metabolic Surgery Centre at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, under well-known surgeons Dr Ivor Funnell, and his partner Dr Gert du Toit, recently completed its historic 500th metabolic procedure. The patient was a Durban man whose wife had previously benefitted from the same procedure.

“Despite being overweight, I have always been quite active, and I think I was in denial about how much weight I had put on in recent years,” related 52-year-old Phillip MacDonald, shortly after he became the centre’s 500th patient to undergo this type of surgery.

Mr MacDonald’s surgery, which was completed by Dr Funnell and his team, brought the number of couples who have both had metabolic surgery at the centre to 11. Another 18 patients have relatives who previously underwent metabolic surgery, and therefore witnessed the life-enhancing health benefits their family members have achieved since.

“I had reached a point at which I was 40kg overweight and had received warnings from healthcare practitioners about the dangers that this posed to my health, such as heightened risk for developing type 2 diabetes,” Mr MacDonald relates.

“It was, however, only after seeing photographs of myself taken at my brother’s recent birthday party that I realised how much weight I had gained over the years. I have also had several episodes of high blood pressure, which is often associated with obesity, and this made me realise that, like my wife who had previously had the procedure at the centre and had greatly benefitted from it, I too needed to go this route,” he added.

“The team at the Durban Metabolic Surgery Centre is highly experienced in this regard and it was a ‘no-brainer’ for me to use the same centre that had served my wife so well. I am delighted that I have now had the procedure, and I feel honoured to be the centre’s 500th patient.”

“The specialists and staff at the hospital have been wonderful and I am surprised at how little pain I have,” added Mr MacDonald, who was speaking from his hospital bed just a few hours after the laparoscopic metabolic intervention was completed.

Dr Funnell, who performed the procedure, said that the surgery had gone very well and he expects Mr MacDonald to benefit from it greatly over the coming months.

According to Dr Funnell, minimally invasive metabolic surgeries undertaken at centres accredited by the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and Metabolism (SASSO), such as that at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, are very safe and are known to achieve outstanding results for most patients, who find them “positively life changing”.

The regional director of the Netcare Hospital division’s coastal region, Craig Murphy, says that the centre’s milestone is, “A most outstanding achievement. It highlights just how many people’s lives the Durban Metabolic Surgery Centre has positively touched within the KwaZulu-Natal region over the years,” adds Murphy.

“It is particularly impressive to note how many individuals who also battled with obesity opted for the procedure after their spouses or family members have benefitted from it. This kind of endorsement speaks volumes for the high levels of patient safety and excellent outcomes achieved by Durban Metabolic Surgery Centre at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, which was also recognised with the inaugural ‘Centre of the Year’ award from SASSO in 2017.”

Dr Funnell says that he and Dr Du Toit commenced performing laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery as the preferred approach for treating patients with morbid obesity and associated illnesses in 2006. “It is most affirming that our multi-disciplinary treatment centre has generally achieved excellent and long-lasting results for our patients over this time.”

Dr Du Toit adds that metabolic surgery is undertaken laparoscopically through small puncture holes in the abdomen and works to limit how much one can eat and also reduces the absorption of nutrients by the digestive system. The individual consequently feels satiated, or full, after consuming smaller portions of food and experiences changes in the entire metabolic system to support weight loss.

“The metabolic surgery options that are available through SASSO accredited centres offer a highly effective means of tackling obesity, and also have a high degree of success in resolving conditions such as blood sugar problems, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, mobility and joint problems, polycystic ovary syndrome and a number of other conditions that are commonly associated with obesity.”

“Many overweight South Africans, such as Mr MacDonald, know how difficult it is to achieve sustained weight loss through dieting and exercise alone. Where patients can be treated and properly supported before and after surgery by a multi-disciplinary team, however, the metabolic surgery approach not only achieves outstanding weight loss results but also has numerous associated health benefits,” he concludes.


Notes to editors:
Centres of excellence for metabolic medicine and surgery

There are currently six centres of excellence for metabolic medicine and surgery at Netcare hospitals, offering patients access to specialised metabolic surgery, including gastric bypass procedures.

These centres of excellence are located at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban, Netcare N1 City Hospital and Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital in Cape Town, Netcare Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth, Netcare Sunward Park Hospital in Boksburg and Netcare Waterfall City Hospital in Midrand, Gauteng.  

The centre at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital is the only internationally accredited centre for the treatment of metabolic conditions in South Africa, and is the principal centre for the five other locally accredited centres of excellence located at Netcare hospitals.

The dedicated multi-disciplinary teams at these centres are comprised of surgeons, endocrinologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and dieticians, among others, in line with the protocols advocated by the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and metabolism (SASSO), which is chaired by endocrinologist, Professor Tess van der Merwe. As director of the Centres of Excellence for Metabolic Medicine and Surgery of South Africa (CEMMS)(SA), Prof Van der Merwe oversees the work of the centres of excellence, including those based at Netcare hospitals.

The centres adhere to international practises to create a safe environment and to support obese patients with empathy and care. To comply with international standards, a database with statistics on each patient is maintained. Strict protocols and regulations with regard to patients’ dietary environment, as well as care in ICU and wards are followed. Training facilities with specialised technology and equipment are also incorporated in the centres.        

To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please contact Netcare’s customer service centre either by email at [email protected] or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:30.

For more information on this media release, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:            MNA on behalf of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]