The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery was founded as a separate department in 1973 as part of the newly established Medical School of the Free State (founded in 1969). Headed by Professor Hannes Meyer, the unit performed the first cardiac procedures in central South Africa in the National Hospital, Bloemfontein.In 1995 the unit moved from National Hospital to Universitas Hospital where it is now headed by Professor Francis E Smit.
The department is functionally divided as follows:
Surgery: Our medical staff consists of three senior consultants, one sessional consultant and five registrars, allowing close to one-on-one training. The department provides an "all comer service" cardiothoracic surgery service, excluding transplant surgery. Annually we perform at least 600 cardiac cases (Annual Reports). We are constantly striving to expand and improve the quality of our services to the under serviced state depended and poor population of Central South Africa (at least 87% of the population). We service a population of about 5,5 million people (Lesotho included) as the only tertiary cardiothoracic centre in the region.
Perfusion Technology: The department was, until recently, one of two active training centers in Perfusion Technology in conjunction with the Central University of Technology, in South Africa. Our redesigned perfusion curriculum is aimed at providing our future perfusionist with world class theoretical and practical training. The division is actively involved in research and higher education.
Research: Research in the department focuses mainly on tissue and homograft research and the impact of abnormal endothelial function on procedural outcomes. We are also actively involved in database development and the development of research databases as well as sustainability and risk management projects. Most of our research projects are conducted in collaboration with both local and international specialists as a quality and capacity building exercise.
Tissue Laboratory: The department has a tissue-processing laboratory at its disposal - the first of its kind in the country. At the laboratory human valves are processed and pericardial patches are manufactured from bovine pericardium, and subsequently used in operations. The Tissue Laboratory also prepares amino acid substrates and gluteraldehyde.
Administrative: The administrative personnel support the smooth operation and coordination of all the activities within the department.
The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, UFS aspires to be a world class unit of excellence in South Africa through:
- Academic excellence
- Economic sustainability
- Community grounded values
- Principles of equal empowerment
The department is dedicated to fulfill its designated role in our community by achieving academic excellence through service delivery of high quality and maintaining international standards in training, research and development.
With the incidence of cardiac disease set to skyrocket in the developing world, the need for dedicated super-specialized medical centers is pressing. Compared to the USA, where 122 out of every 100 0000 people undergo cardiac surgery each year, the comparative figure for South Africa is a mere 19.Less than 20% of children requiring cardiac surgery in South Africa receive treatment. This figure is estimated at less than 1% for the African continent as a whole. As a result, many children, who if given the appropriate medical care would lead normal lives, are dying unnecessarily.
We are strongly community and African based and are actively involved in expanding services to our community and also to other African countries.