Professors honoured

Professor Teddie Hoffman with his grandchildren, John Willcox, Nina and Lea Vosloo.

Maitland Cottage Hospital has honoured two professors, who worked at the hospital for about 60 years collectively, during a plaque unveiling ceremony.

Professor Teddie Hoffman and Professor Lewis Sparks were the guests of honour at the ceremony on Friday June 14, when staff, family and friends acknowledged the difference they had made in many children’s lives over the years.

Two of the hospital’s wings have been renamed after the professors.

Maitland Cottage Hospital is a dedicated paediatric orthopaedic hospital which specialises in the medical and surgical treatment of children with physical disability due to disease or accident.

Professor Sparks worked as a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital for about 40 years, before retiring in 2016.

He predominantly, but not exclusively, presided over the care of children with cerebral palsy and had regular clinics at the regional schools for disabled children as well as Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Dr Anria Horn said Dr Sparks was a gifted surgeon who generally understated his acumen, but was widely respected by trainees and colleagues alike. He was also an avid researcher and wrote some seminal papers.

“His dedication to his patients is made evident by the fact that he only retired at the age of 77 once a willing and able surgeon was found to replace him and carry on his work,” she said.

Professor Sparks said his time at the hospital had been one he would cherish – with the hospital being smaller than the others he had worked in.

“We got to know the staff members on a deeper level and were able to communicate and work well together. Working in a smaller more intimate hospital makes all the difference,” he said.

Professor Hoffman qualified as an orthopaedic surgeon in 1985 and worked at Matiland Cottage from January 1987 to May 2012. Dr Horn said he was remembered for his vociferous personality and penchant for research and academics.

“Dr Hoffman established the paediatric orthopaedic care system that is still in place today, and functions faultlessly. He published many papers and is quoted in major international textbooks. The bulk of his research was performed on bone and joint infections, particularly tuberculosis, as well as traumatic injuries and other bone deformities. He is the stuff of legends and will always be referred to fondly by his ex-trainees and protègès,” she said.

Professor Hoffman said he had enjoyed his time at the hospital and he echoed Professor Sparks’s sentiment, saying he had worked well with the staff. “This is one of the most unique units in the city. There have been many changes and improvements made to the hospital over the years, and I am proud to have been part of it,” he said.