Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust mourns death of its patron

The Tygerberg Hospital Childrens Trust celebrate the 90th birthday of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

As the world mourns the death of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Epilo Tutu, the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust mourns the loss of its patron.

“We as South Africans have lost our moral beacon, and all of us at the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust lost a friend, mentor and spiritual leader,“ said spokesperson Carmen Jacobs.

Archbishop Tutu, who died at the age of 90 on Sunday December 26, and his wife Leah have been patrons to Tygerberg Hospital’s children for more than 20 years.

As patron, sad Ms Jacobs, he had actively assisted with fundraising for both the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital Trust and the Tygerberg Hospital School. “Through these endeavours our child patients have had access to medical equipment and school computers not otherwise possible without donor funding,” said Ms Jacobs.

Archbishop Tutu and his wife regularly visited Tygerberg hospital to talk to parents and children, to read stories and brought laughter into the paediatric wards.

“He was a man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincible love for all. A son of the soil of South Africa. As a witness of tyranny at its worst, Tata Arch Tutu was tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who suffer oppression, injustice and violence around the world,” said Ms Jacobs.

He was especially outspoken about the inequalities in health care in South Africa and therefore committed to assist the children of Tygerberg hospital to gain access to improved medical care, she said. The child with tuberculosis was especially dear to him as he has suffered tuberculosis as a child and personally knew the suffering of this potentially life-threatening disease.

CEO of the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust, Jason Falken said the Arch, as he was fondly known, had “taught us the meaning of unconditional love”.

“This is the gift he has given the world. He gave selflessly to the betterment of so many children. We will always honour him and strive through our work to uphold your vision for humanity.

“Through the Tutu Tygers Ambassador Platform we founded together on Youth Day 2020, we will pursue the ideals you have taught us. It is up to us now, the youth of this world. On behalf of all of us at Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust, may you rest in a well-deserved peace,” said Mr Falken.

Professor Regan Solomons, a trustee of the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust described Archbishop Tutu as a tireless fighter on behalf of the downtrodden and vulnerable. “Words cannot express the gratitude for the work that he and Ma Leah have done for the children of Tygerberg Hospital, and the legacy that is left behind,” said Professor Solomons.

“The Trust will remember the Arch as a man of deep faith whose charm, warmth and love cut through the challenges of this world, so that the downtrodden could be lifted up and injustices could be eradicated.

“His happiness shone through when active in service of others.

“May you rest in well-deserved peace, Arch Tutu,” said Professor Solomons.

Tygerberg Hospital provides specialist medical care for more than half of the babies and children in the Western Cape who come almost exclusively from indigent communities. The hospital also provides medical care for child patients from outlying and rural communities within the Western Cape metropole. Annually, about 15 000 babies and children are admitted to the 300 inpatient beds at Tygerberg Hospital. Many of these remain in hospital for lengthy periods of time.