Life-changing surgery at Groote Schuur

2018-05-01 06:00
Joint replacement patient Sharifa Adonis with Spear Health Foundation’s Hélène Rossouw.

Joint replacement patient Sharifa Adonis with Spear Health Foundation’s Hélène Rossouw.

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More patients in urgent need of joint replacement surgery stand to benefit from a life-changing project at Groote Schuur Hospital.

The Joint Project, a private-public partnership between the hospital and non-profit organisation Spear Health Foundation, has already assisted no fewer than six patients, one of whom had been on crutches and out of employment for over a year.

“(The Joint Project) is absolutely life changing. I was in a lot of pain,” says Michelle Rathnam (39).

Diagnosed with osteonecrosis, a disease that cuts off blood supply to the bones, Rathnam spent over a year on a waiting list before her first hip replacement operation in January this year. She would have had to wait longer for her second hip surgery had it not been for the Joint Project.

“I was very lucky to get a call from Hélène (Rossouw) and had my second hip replacement done in April. (The surgery) will get me back on my feet literally, because I am very active now,” says Rathnam.

She is currently undergoing physiotherapy, which, according to Rossouw, plays a significant role in the recovery time and the patient’s ability to walk normally again.

Rossouw is the CEO of Spear Health Foundation and when she set up the initiative three years ago, the goal was to address the government’s growing waiting lists for joint replacement surgeries.

The waiting list is currently at around 4000 in the Western Cape and an estimated 35 000 in the country, she says. “Through the Joint Project we want to create the capacity to assist with more joint surgeries, and invite potential funders to join our cause.”

The foundation is run through grant donations from the private sector and

Local advanced medical technology specialists Smith & Nephew donated the products required for the recent operations. The company’s director of professional education for the Africa region, Ray Buthelezi, says they are delighted to be involved in a project that is assisting medical education.

Says Rossouw: “The surgeries demonstrate the positive impact that can be made when the private and public sector join forces. Government hospitals and their faculty boards cannot solve the challenge on their own, neither can the private sector. But our foundation is able to join these forces,and together address the challenge.”

She says that through additional funding, the Joint Project also exposes surgeons-in-training to joint surgeries. Surgeons-in-training need to do at least 40 joint surgeries towards their surgery

“In this manner, the Joint Project also addresses the challenge of qualifying doctors for medical practice,” Rossouw adds.

Chairperson of the hospital facility board, Dr Zameer Brey, says: “The Groote Schuur Hospital facility board is extremely pleased to collaborate with the Spear Health Foundation on the Joint Project. Any assistance which is able to help relieve the strain on the public health waiting lists is most welcome.”

The other patients who underwent surgery are Sharifa Adonis from Crawford, Vandi Werth from Parow, Paul Janse van Rensburg from Bellville, Fundiswa Sicwebu from Wynberg and Avril Parekh from Muizenberg.

After their surgery, they spent the night in intensive care and then started their physiotherapy. “These patients will undergo intense physiotherapy for two to three months post operation, at which time they should be able to lead normal lives,” says Rossouw.

Meanwhile, an ecstatic Rathnam cannot wait to get back on her feet. “It’s an absolutely fantastic project and I will be out there telling my story,” she says.

The project aims to host one theatre day per month, but in order to achieve this goal, more funding is needed.

 Corporates or individuals are invited to contact Hélène Rossouw on 082 771 8834 for donations.


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