Free operations for Mandela Day

The provincial Department of Health is running its Operation100 project to celebrate the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

To celebrate Nelson Mandela’s centenary year, the provincial Department of Health set out to do 100 life-changing operations for some of society’s most vulnerable but did almost double, according to Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.

She was speaking at Groote Schuur Hospital on Monday, where health officials hailed #Operation100 a success.

Dr Mbombo said it was thanks to help from the private sector, volunteers and donors that they had pulled off 195 operations – almost double the target – for those most in need.

”Thank you to all donors who came on board to assist in giving back to the community. We are truly living the Madiba legacy,” she said.

The operations included hip and knee replacements; ear, nose and throat procedures; gynaecology and urology procedures; female sterilisations; and cataract-removals.

Two of the people who benefited from the procedures were at the event to share their stories.

Robert Francis, 56, from Mitchell’s Plain, who coincidentally shares a birthday with Nelson Mandela on July 18, suffered from arthritis to the hip for five years. The pain was so unbearable he had needed to sleep with a pillow between his legs.

Yolanda Lewin, from Grassy Park, was there with her daughter, Zharane, 2, who had a tonsillectomy.

Ms Lewin said Zharane had struggled to eat for two years as she had had enlarged tonsils. Zharane had avoided a long waiting list because of Operation100, and Ms Lewin said she was grateful for that.

Head of the provincial Department of Health Dr Beth Engelbrecht said they had wanted to carry on the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

“These procedures are free of charge for those patients; the costs are carried by the donors. For us, today is to recognise the donations, to recognise the staff and also to recognise our patients,” she said.

Dr Mbombo said Operation100 had had life-changing benefits for many of the patients who had benefited from it. They would have had to have waited much longer for the procedures otherwise, she said.