Passing of pioneering gynaecological surgeon leaves void in SA healthcare

Internationally recognised healthcare professional mourned

Friday, June 29 2018

 “The staff and management of Netcare mourn the passing of our colleague and friend, Dr Johan van der Wat, who passed away after a long illness yesterday morning,” said Dr Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare.

“Dr Van der Wat, a world renowned endoscopic surgeon and reproductive medicine specialist, was a valued member of the medical team at Netcare Park Lane Hospital and a much admired member of the South African healthcare fraternity, who put his family and patients above all else.”

“He was a humble man who attributed his dedication and success to the support and guidance of his father, Dr Jacobus van der Wat, who introduced laparoscopy to South Africa. His death comes within days of that of his father, and has come, as did the news of his illness, as a tremendous shock to us all,” added Dr Friedland.

“We will remember Dr Johan van der Wat for the indelible mark he has made within the medical field and for the immense legacy he leaves. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Van der Wat family and we wish them strength and comfort in their time of bereavement,” he said.

Like his father, Dr Johan van der Wat was a recipient of the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Gold Medal, an initiative of Netcare in association with the Christiaan Barnard Foundation. The award pays tribute to doctors who practice at healthcare facilities within the Netcare Group who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in their specific field while contributing to the advancement of medicine. 

Dr Van der Wat’s achievements were numerous. In 2010, he became the first African-based practitioner to be appointed to the prestigious Board of the American Association of Gynaecological Laparoscopists (AAGL).

He established the endoscopic surgery unit at Netcare Park Lane Hospital and the Endometriosis Institute of Southern Africa.  Under his guidance the endoscopic unit provided training to local as well as foreign graduates. In this unit, Dr Van der Wat performed the first laparoscopic hysterectomy in Africa together with fellow gynaecologist, Dr Harry Reich.

Dr Van der Wat served on the boards of many national as well as international societies and amongst his accolades and achievements was being invited by the British Society of Gynaecological Imaging to deliver a paper on Multislice Computerised Tomography at their annual meeting held at the RCOG London. Dr van der Wat has also contributed to numerous peer review publications and chapters in text books, wrote editorials and served on several editorial boards and review committees.

Dr Van der Wat was part of the team who pioneered the world’s first mother/daughter surrogate triplet pregnancy and he is also credited as the surgeon who performed the first robotic-assisted surgery in Africa.

“Dr van der Wat will be remembered for dedicating his life’s work to the healthcare profession in South Africa. He will be sorely missed but he leaves a lasting legacy which will remain with us all,” concluded Dr Friedland.


Issued by:  NA on behalf of Netcare 
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]