On Wednesday, 25 May 2016 three patients from Groote Schuur Hospital, who have been waiting for a hip replacement for more than three years, were able to walk out of hospital on crutches into their new lives.
The Joint Project – a conglomerate of private sector partners and the Western Cape Government Health who joined forces to address the waiting list for joint replacements, made the joint surgeries possible.
The Joint Project funds a single theatre day in a state hospital allowing for four joint surgeries in theatre. This time round one of the patients desperately needed a bi-lateral hip replacement, meaning both hips, so in this event three patients were operated, although four surgeries were done. The three patients who benefited are all younger than 50 and have lived limited lives for some years now.
Through the additional funding, The Joint Project also allows surgeons-in-training the exposure to joint surgeries. Surgeons-in-training need to do at least 40 joint surgeries towards their surgery qualification. In this manner, The Joint Project also addresses the challenge of qualifying doctors for medical practice.
The three patients selected to undergo joint surgery in May are all from the southern suburbs. Deon de Bruyn (47) from Lakeside has suffered from a hip deformity since childhood and the painful onset of arthritis in his twenties. He travels every day by train from his flat in Lakeside to his place of employment as a security guard in Ndabeni. Pain is a part of his daily life, taking batches of painkillers thrice a day. Since the beginning of this year he uses a walking stick to support his gait, and to help him get on the train. The bilateral hip replacement –meaning both hips were replaced – will relieve him of years of debilitating pain and within three months Mr. De Bruyn will be able to have a normal life, even taking up a sport. The surgery will change his life.
Mrs. Anthea Jacobs, only 37 years old, is a home executive suffering from avascular necrosis (AVN) of the femoral head for the past 10 years. AVN is a pathologic process that results from the interruption of blood supply to the bone. After 10 years of a life in pain, Mrs. Jacobs will return home and have an active life with her family again. She is married, is a housewife and has 4 children – Angelique (16), Lechandre (13), Caitlyn (9) and Leo (8).
Jasper Hartog (58) lives in Hout Bay. He is also relieved to have had a hip replacement after years of pain caused by arthritis.
The patients were admitted to Groote Schuur hospital on Thursday, 19 May, and underwent the surgeries on Friday, 20 May. Physiotherapy plays a significant role in the recovery time and the patient’s ability to walk normally again. These patients will undergo intense physiotherapy for the next two to three months, at which time they should be able to lead normal lives.
“We have seen an increase in patients requiring joint operations, but due to demand and pressure to have these operations done outstrips the available capacity and funds at our hospitals. However, through interventions and partnerships like these, we are able to help a few more patients to live normal lives again” says Dr Bhavna Patel, CEO Groote Schuur hospital.
In his address, Theuns Botha, founder and director of Spear Health Foundation, said, “ Joint surgery is widely recognized as one of the most successful operations. It is sad that that the state does not have the resources to match the demand.
“In the Western Cape the waiting list stands at 4000, and in the country estimated at 35 000. Through The Joint Project we want to create capacity for more joint surgeries, and invite potential funders to join our cause.”
The partners joining hands for The Joint Project is the Western Cape Government Health, Groote Schuur Hospital, the Joint Care Trust, Johnson & Johnson and Drs Schnetler, Corbett & Partners.
The Joint Project is facilitated by Spear Health Foundation, recently established by former Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, to source funding in the private sector for vulnerable state patients who fall outside of government’s budget net. In order to have one theatre day per month, Spear Health Foundation needs more funders to join hands for The Joint Project, and invites corporates or individuals to contact us for this cause. Contact person is Hélène Rossouw, mobile 082 771 8834.
The Joint Care Trust is a non-profit organization established by joint surgeons, Dr Deon Engela and Dr Nick Martin. The Trust is actively involved in seeking sponsorship of arthroplasty implants as well as consumables and theatre time in the private sector.
Drs Schnetler, Corbett & Partners is an established radiology practice with 11 practices throughout the Western Cape, providing diagnostic and interventional imaging procedures. Says Dr Kuben Naidu, managing partner at SCP Radiology: “We are pleased to be involved in such an empowering project that facilitates the joint cooperation between the public and private health sector with the proposed outcome of integrating these patients back into society as active members”.
Photo caption: (Former Minster) Theuns Botha, Spearhealth and Dr Bhavna Patel, CEO of Groote Schuur Hospital presents patient who received the much needed joint operations. Patients in wheel chairs: from left to right Anthea Jacobs and Jasper Hartog.