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South African Journal of Surgery

versão On-line ISSN 2078-5151
versão impressa ISSN 0038-2361

S. Afr. j. surg. vol.55 no.3 Cape Town Set. 2017

 

PERSPECTIVE

 

 

The prescient "Wind of Change" speech was a historically significant address by British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, to the South African Parliament on 3 February 1960 in Cape Town. The speech acquired its name from a now-famous quotation embedded in it. Macmillan said: "The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact". To paraphrase this prophetic oration, southern winds of change are again blowing in the Cape. Two acclaimed surgeons, Professor Elmin Steyn and Professor Elmi Muller, have recently been appointed to the prestigious Chairs of Surgery at the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town, replacing the incumbents in bastions of previous traditionally male dominated Chairs.

Professor Elmin Steyn was appointed as the Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Stellenbosch and Tygerberg Hospital in March 2016. She was one of the first women to qualify as a general surgeon in South Africa and is a registered subspecialist trauma surgeon who is also passionate about transplantation. She was Head of Tygerberg Trauma Unit before entering private practice at Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town, heading the Trauma Emergency Centre and establishing the first private renal transplant programme in Cape Town, as well as the Trauma Centre at Vincent Pallotti Hospital. Elmin served as Chair of the Organ Donor Foundation and later as president of both the South African Transplantation Society and the Trauma Society. Under her leadership the Trauma Society focused on injury and violence prevention advocacy and launched the accreditation programme for Trauma Centres in South Africa.

 

 

Elmin is a member of the International Association of Trauma Surgery and Intensive Care (IATSIC), and was the African representative for DSTC. As instructor in advanced trauma care, she has trained surgeons in 20 countries in Africa, India, Europe and Australasia. She has presented papers and delivered keynote presentations at Trauma conferences worldwide. She is co-editor of three editions of the Oxford Handbook of Trauma and has contributed chapters to several textbooks of Trauma Surgery. She served on the board of the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service, is a current board member of the HPCSA and is the recipient of various awards. Elmin collects art, loves travelling and is passionate about flying helicopters.

Professor Elmi Muller was appointed Head of the Division of General Surgery at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital in January 2017 and has worked in the field of transplantation since 2005. She has an active interest in promoting organ donation and transplantation and was The Transplantation Society (TTS) councilor for the Middle East and Africa between 2010 and 2014. She still serves on the TTS Executive, with her term expiring at the end of 2018. Elmi has been involved in various transplant-related outreach and educational programmes in South Africa and Africa. Through the ISN Educational Ambassador's programme she trained surgeons in Zambia and Nigeria to do vascular access. In 2013 she organised a workshop for African clinicians who started transplantation programmes in their own countries, which was attended by 31 delegates from 11 countries.

 

 

Elmi was the programme committee chair for developing countries at the 26th International Congress of The Transplantation Society in August 2016 in Hong Kong. She also co-chairs the Declaration of Istanbul for Organ Donation Custodian Group (DICG) and will be the co-chair of the ten year anniversary meeting of this document, planned for 2018.

In 2008, she initiated a transplant programme for HIV positive patients utilising HIV positive donors at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. For her work on the programme she was featured in The Lancet in 2012 and in a number of journals in 2015. She is the principal investigator of a NIH-funded study based at the University of Cape Town which drives a research project on the virological and immunological impact of the second viral strain after receiving a kidney from a HIV positive donor. The interest created by this work has impacted on the humanities-centred debates about ethics and human dignity, as demonstrated by her work with Professor Susanne Lundin, with whom she co-edited the book Global Bodies in Grey Zones: Health, Hope, Bioeconomy, published in August 2016. Elmi is married to the academic and writer, Stephanus Muller, and they have two sons, Willem (18) and Johan (11).

On behalf of the surgical community we congratulate both surgeons on their outstanding academic achievements and distinguished careers and wish both well with their future endeavours.

Jake Krige

Editor, SAJS

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