NGO helps Groote Schuur catch up with surgeries

From left, are Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, hospital CEO Bhavna Patel, head of the department of surgery Professor Graham Fieggen, Groote Schuur Hospital Trust chairperson Mustaq Brey and head of surgery Professor Lydia Cairncross.

Gift of the Givers has donated R5 million to Groote Schuur Hospital to help it catch up with surgeries that were put on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some 10 000 to 15 000 patients had been unable to get their surgeries in the past two years because Groote Schuur had had to close almost half of its operating theatres to redeploy staff to Covid-19 wards, the hospital’s CEO, Dr Bhavna Patal, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“We had to limit the number of surgical procedures we could do; we had to deal with patients getting sick from Covid-19 as well as staff getting sick from the virus.”

With support from Gift of the Givers, the hospital would be able to resume its normal surgical work, she said.

“We want to prioritise our patients and ensure that the most deserving receive their operations.”

Head of surgery at the hospital, Professor Lydia Cairncross said patients waiting for essential services included those needing joint replacements, cataract surgery, prostate surgery and women with ovarian and breast cancer.

“Now that we are looking to recover, our hospital is at full capacity; there is no space to address the backlog,” she said.

Professor Cairncross said the hospital hoped to raise R15 million for a surgical-recovery project that would see it create more space for surgical theatres and hire extra staff.

“We are turning the old wards which were used as a high-care Covid-19 ward into surgical wards,” she said.

“We are hoping to do between 1500 to 2000 operations per year to deserving patients,” she said, adding that for every R10 000 they could do one operation.

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman appealed to the public to support the project.

“This project has to work because it has to set an example for hospitals around the country because people have been suffering in the country.

“Ordinary South Africans can make a difference. It doesn’t matter how much you donate, your support could help your family and neighbour.”

Visit the Groote Schuur Hospital Trust’s website at or call its director, Kristy Evans, at 073 406 7920 if you would like to support the project.