Three doctors make SA surgical history
MEMBERS of the faculty of health sciences at the University of Free State made history by becoming the first in South Africa to implant a special new aortic valve in a patient.
In a combined effort, the departments of cardiology, pediatric cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery did the first Medtronic CoreValve implant in South Africa on a patient at Universitas Academic Hospital.
With the support of hospital management and Medtronic, Professor Hennie Theron, Prof Stephen Brown and Dr JP Theron of the faculty of health sciences, with the assistance of Dr Jean-Claude Laborde, performed the operation early on Wednesday. The advantage of this new valve is that it can be implanted percutaneously (through the skin) through a catheter from the groin. This eliminates the need for invasive surgery.
The valve is made from tissue derived from pigs and is mounted on an expandable stent, which is threaded along an artery, until it reaches its desired position. Theron says the valve is especially useful in older patients who suffer from aortic valve disease and pose a high surgical risk. The use of this valve greatly reduces hospitalisation time, compared to traditional surgery.
"One patient has already received an implant today (yesterday) and we hope to finish two more today (yesterday)," Brown said, emphasising the swiftness and efficiency of the new valve implanting process.
"It is a complex procedure, but this service can in future be offered to all patients in the public and private sectors in Free State. It is heart-warming that the academic complex can take the lead in this modern, high-tech therapy."