Published on: 28 May 2024 Category: Media Statement

A collaborative partnership between the North West and Gauteng provincial Department of Health has led to the successful performing of the first-ever open heart surgery at a provincial referral hospital in the North West Province. Klerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital supported by the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH) achieves the historical milestone on Friday the 24th of May 2024.

The patient is a 38-year-old woman who has been known to the Gauteng Cardiac Services since 2006. She suffered from mitral regurgitation (a leaking valve) with a sub-mitral aneurysm (abnormal swelling of the heart).

Surgery was recommended as far back as 2006, but she declined surgery back then as she was not emotionally ready. A decade later the patient agreed to have the surgery.

The discussions to start cardiac services at the Klerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital complex date back to 2010, with structural planning beginning a decade later. Heart operations, by their very nature, require enormous capital investments, manpower, and infrastructure. As such, this feat could only be achieved by careful planning and execution. Klerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital dedicated itself to achieving all the necessary requirements by renovating its theatres during the COVID-19 pandemic and acquiring the necessary equipment.

At the same time, various plenary meetings were held between the two hospitals to prepare for the now successful surgery. The hospital management, cardiothoracic surgeons, anesthetists, perfusionists and theatre-trained nurses supported by physicians, cardiologists and the clinical engineering team supported these efforts equally on both sides which led to the culmination of this historic achievement.

The patient has already been extubated. She is doing well in the intensive care unit and is in high spirits. This demonstrates that the intensive care unit at Klerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital is equally suited to managing complex cases.

Expressing her gratitude, the 38-year-old female patient Martha Vanstawel said “I am grateful for the care and treatment I received so far. I am also thankful that the operation was done here at home, where my family can easily come to see me. Thank you, all the doctors and nurses, and everyone who made this operation a success”. This was a clear demonstration that with the right mindset and resources, any government hospital could perform the surgeries that have often been viewed as surgeries performed only in tertiary university hospitals.

The North West MEC for Health Madoda Sambatha attributed this success to a vision which led to a progressive collaboration and commitment of a team of managers, specialists, doctors and nurses between Klerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital and the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH). He also said that it is a result of the investment that his department has made in preparation for the National Health Insurance (NHI) over the years.

“This breakthrough no doubt demonstrates our ability to implement NHI. The surgery was state funded and done in a township which is exactly what NHI stands for,” said MEC Sambatha. Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, said the collaboration has paved the way for enhanced healthcare delivery, ensuring that specialised services are accessible to all citizens in need of critical care regardless of their province of origin.

“This initiative exemplifies the transformation of health services in South Africa, focusing on access and equity to healthcare. By bringing such advanced medical care to the North-West, we ensure that patients receive the necessary treatment without the added burden of traveling long distances, thereby reducing both financial and emotional strain on them and their families,” said MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko.

The CMJAH team was led by Dr Tumi Taunyane, Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery, who originally hails from Klerksdorp, and Dr Palesa Motshabi Chakane, Head of Anaesthesia. The Klerksdorp - Tshepong Hospital team was led by Dr Akin Ogunrombi (Thoracic Surgeon) and Dr Aunell Mallier (Anaesthetist).

Cardiac surgical patients needing heart operations at Klerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital have been referred to other centers in Bloemfontein and CMJAH Hospital. However, this initiative is bound to alleviate the pressure on the waiting times for surgery at central hospitals. Both the Health MECs for North West Gauteng, Ms Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko and Mr Madoda Sambatha would like to express their appreciation and gratitude to the Cardiac Surgical Team from the two hospitals, their CEOs, hospital management, nurses and clinicians, and everyone involved to ensure that this initiative is a success.

The collaboration Kerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital is not just a momentous occasion; it is a significant step towards the implementation of the National Health Insurance and achieving Universal Health Coverage.

By working together to develop a fully-fledged cardiac unit in the North West, government is ensuring that training, infrastructure improvements, and resource allocations are aligned to provide sustainable, high-quality healthcare. Sharing treatment guidelines and clinical protocols will guarantee that we deliver cost-effective services with excellent health outcomes.


Issued by the North West and Gauteng Department of Health

Mr Motalatale Modiba, Gauteng Department of Health Head of Communication 064 803 0808


Mr Tebogo Lekgethwane North West Department of Health Departmental Spokesperson 067 422 7763

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