Foreshore plain may be renamed

2017-01-17 06:01

A proposal to rename a public space near the newly constructed Christiaan Barnard Hospital will look to capture the history of the first heart transplant.

Last week, the City of Cape Town’s naming and nomination committee discussed a proposal to rename Salazar Plain in the foreshore after the late Dr Hamilton Naki, laboratory assistant to cardiac surgeon Dr Christiaan Barnard.

The committee has recommended that a public participation process be carried out.

Naki was a healthcare scientist from Langa who was denied the opportunity of formal medical training during apartheid, explains Brett Herron, chairperson of the committee.

“Naki assisted Barnard in his preparations to perform the world’s first successful heart transplant in the Groote Schuur Hospital in 1967. Naki’s involvement received very little, if any, acknowledgement at the time.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of this historic moment, offering us the ideal opportunity to celebrate and honour the contribution that Naki made,” he says.

Naki, born in the Transkei, received education until the age of 14. Naki was a gardener at Groote Schuur when he was selected to work in the clinical laboratories. Despite his lack of formal medical education, Naki’s technique and surgical skills convinced the hospital managers to allow him special permission to conduct research in the laboratories. Naki became Barnard’s assistant and contributed to the development of transplant techniques.

He was eventually allowed to operate and give lectures, training over 3000 future surgeons until his retirement in 1991 on a gardener’s pension. Naki received an honorary degree in medicine after his retirement. He passed away in 2005, aged 78.

The proposal for the renaming of Salazar Plain was submitted by Netcare Limited, owner of the new hospital, and is supported by Naki’s family.

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