Learning while remembering a pivotal moment in the history of medicine

Monday, November 28 2022

On Saturday, 3 December 2022, the 55th anniversary of the world’s first heart transplant, Netcare Hospitals’ Cape Town region will be hosting a continued medical education (CME) programme for healthcare professionals to mark this pivotal moment in the advancement of the medical profession.

In announcing the event, Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s Hospital Division noted that healthcare professionals who practise in South Africa and elsewhere in the world are walking in the footsteps of one of medicine’s greatest minds – a pioneer who challenged existing norms in medicine and was boldly innovative, but most importantly as a healthcare professional he never stopped learning or growing professionally.

“Professor Chris Barnard will forever be remembered as the South African surgeon who stunned the world when he performed the world's first human heart transplant on 3 December 1967. His career as a physician and surgeon was punctuated by several extraordinary breakthroughs which, among others, included the successful treatment of tuberculous meningitis while still in his twenties. Even as a young doctor, his approach to finding solutions and better treatment methods ensured that he was years ahead of his peers.  Professor Barnard went on to be awarded six degrees and qualified as a specialist physician and surgeon. His unequalled surgical and research repertoire enabled him to gain an international reputation for several contributions,” said Du Plessis.

“He was the first to show that intestinal atresia was caused by an insufficient blood supply to the foetus during pregnancy. This discovery led to the development of a surgical procedure to correct the formerly fatal defect. When he returned to South Africa as a senior cardiothoracic surgeon – after completing his doctoral studies in the United States – Professor Barnard introduced open heart surgery to the country and also developed a new design for artificial heart valves. That was just a glimmer of what was to come,” he added.

According to Du Plessis, the world of medicine has seen many new developments, growth in knowledge and increasingly sophisticated technology. “The promises offered by the digital age are exciting and revolutionary. Here within the Netcare Group we are undertaking such a digital transformation and in the second quarter of next year every patient leaving a Netcare hospital or Netcare Akeso mental health facility will be able to access their hospital discharge summary, information about their procedure along with a list of prescribed medicines, under MyNetcare online, a digital portal that offers patients online pre-admission to hospital, quality surveys and allows the booking of doctor appointments.

“By April 2024 all Netcare hospitals will have been added to the electronic CareOn system, which includes the digitalisation of medical records, scripts, patients' blood and other pathology test results as well as radiology results and x-rays. This electronic system is already operational at 21 Netcare hospitals representing 4 828 beds and 188 operating theatres. It has also been implemented within National Renal Care, Netcare Cancer Care and Netcare 911. The system is integrated with electronic equipment in ICU and high-care wards as part of a transformational healthcare project of unprecedented scale and complexity, the likes of which have never been seen on the African continent,” he noted.

Dr Louis van der Hoven, Netcare’s regional general manager for the Western Cape said that Netcare espoused the principles of life-long learning to ensure ongoing personal, professional and vocational improvement.

“We have committed ourselves to doing our part in ensuring that healthcare professionals are always able to maintain their knowledge and skills at the highest level, in order to deliver the best possible care to patients. Continuous research and the implementation of evidence based best practice are imperative when it comes to the upliftment of our healthcare offerings to communities. Together with specialists, we at Netcare have introduced many highly advanced firsts in medical treatments in South Africa and on this continent, to give local patients access to world class medical care and we look forward to expanding this list.

“As healthcare professionals, we can only strive to live up to the legacy of Professor Christiaan Barnard as we reach ever further for the advancement of human health. This we do in the spirit of staying true to those principles of development and innovation.

“We are looking forward to hosting some 250 healthcare professionals from around the Western Cape on 3 December. We have an interesting and highly topical CME engagement programme in the offing featuring leading healthcare experts in fields as diverse as retinal surgery to pulmonology, orthopaedics, clinical pathology, endocrinology, neurosurgery and cardiothoracic surgery,” he concluded.

The CME will be held at the Protea Hotel by Marriott® Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge from 07:30 to 17:00 on Saturday, 3 December 2022. Please email or call Michelle Norris for further information at [email protected] or 082 9204 610. Please note that talks for the open day are CPD accredited.

CME programme 3 December 2022

Ethical rules for the healthcare practitioner

Dr Louis van der Hoven, regional manager Netcare

Does South Africa have an opioid problem?

Dr Milton Raff, anaesthetist

Long COVID: Where to from here?

Professor Guy Richards, pulmonologist

Approaches to total hip replacement

Dr Thane Munting, orthopaedic surgeon

The role of molecular testing in primary care

Dr Jacobus du Toit Deetlefs, clinical pathologist, Ampath

Surgical treatment of hepatobiliary and
pancreatic tumours

Dr Graham Stapleton, general surgeon

The management of diabetic patients in 2022

Dr Zane Stevens, endocrinologist

Backs and necks

Dr Sachin Naidoo, neurosurgeon

Thoracic surgical disease in everyday general practice: indications for referral

Dr Wilhelm Lichtenberg, cardiothoracic surgeon

Surgery for metabolic syndrome and morbid obesity

Dr Andre Potgieter, general surgeon

Early signs and symptoms of retinal detachment

Dr Pieter van der Merwe, retinal surgeon

End stage heart failure: evolving strategies in cardiac transplantation           

Dr Willie Koen, cardiothoracic surgeon

Alternative surgical approaches to the lumber spine: achieving successful lumbar fusion     

Dr Reggie King, orthopaedic spinal surgeon

Notes to editor

Looking for a medical appointment? Netcare appointmed™ will make appointments for YOU with specialists practising at Netcare hospitals, GPs and dentists at Medicross medical and dental centres, and specialists at Akeso mental health facilities. Simply request an appointment online at or phone Netcare appointmed™  on 0860 555 565, Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 17:00.
To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please visit or contact the Netcare 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 16:00.

For media enquiries, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:   MNA on behalf of Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital
For media enquiries contact:   Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or Clementine Forsthofer
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]