Tygerberg patients get life-saving surgery

John Vraagom was the first Tygerberg patient to undergo the prostatectomy surgery. Here he is with senior nurse Melanie Philander.

Patients on Tygerberg Hospital patients are getting robot-assisted prostate surgery thanks to a partnership between private and public hospitals.

John Vraagom, who has stage-2 prostate cancer, was the first of 10 state patients who underwent the da Vinci robotic surgery at the private MediClinic Durbanville last week.

Over the coming weeks, MediClinic Durbanville, together with urologist Dr Gawie Bruwer, will carry out similar procedures on another nine patients.

The pro-bono procedures — part of a collaboration between private and public hospitals — will reduce the pressure on surgical waiting lists at state health facilities.

This is the first time the da Vinci robot at Durbanville MediClinic is being used as part of this collaboration.

The da Vinci robot was introduced to MediClinic Durbanville several years ago, and according to Dr Bruwer, it greatly helps patients’ recovery.

“The precision of the da Vinci aids the thorough removal of cancerous tissue as well as offering the ability to perform nerve sparing surgery, which enables a faster return of erectile function as well as a better chance for urinary continence,” he said.

The most recent series of collaborations have been carried out across the Western Cape, Free State and Limpopo provinces with a number of other provinces still being discussed.

Operations included cataract, urology and tympanoplasty (eardrum repair) procedures.

Provincial Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said the partnership was also about strengthening the working relationship between private and public hospitals and working together to change the lives of people.

“I wish to thank Mediclinic for the extension of the collaborative surgeries programme to the patients of Tygerberg Hospital. We are taking hands with our partners in the private sector in seeking a better health future for all the people of the Western Cape, and South Africa,” she said.

Tygerberg Hospital CEO Dimitri Erasmus said: “With no current access to the Da Vinci in public hospitals, this will provide a valuable teaching opportunity across the private and public platforms.”

Koert Pretorius, Mediclinic Southern Africa CEO, said: “We acknowledge the severe shortage of doctors and nurses in our country and we understand how this can hamper the public sector’s ability to deliver care, but by working together in Public Private Initiatives we have the opportunity to reach beyond our traditional patient base and assist these patients.”