On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.99 n.11 Cape Town Nov. 2009
Hendrik (Henk) Kayser (25/09/1925 7/09/2009)
Henk was a man of many facets, but apart from his dedication to his extensive family, his over-riding ethos was his unsparing dedication towards helping those in need, both as a medical man and as a Rotarian. In the fullest sense, he was a humanitarian, who to the end of his life devoted many hours each day to his goal of helping the lot of underprivileged patients.
His medical career began with his graduation in Leiden, Holland in 1952. In 1957 he moved to South Africa, where he initially set up practice in Durban. In 1964 he commenced private practice in East London. For many years he was active in several Departments of Frere Hospital as an Honorary Consultant. One of his particular interests was in hydatid disease, and he published a paper based on his research, which was widely recognised and applauded.
He early on became actively involved with the Border Branch of the South African Medical Association, and from 1962 to 1998 served as a Branch Councillor. He was Branch President in 1978, 1979 and 1994 and served also as Chairman in 1994. From 1978 to 1991 he, in addition, served as Federal Councillor of the Branch. In 1989 he was the national SAMA President. From 1996 to 1998 he was Chairman of the SAMA Provincial Council for the Eastern Cape Province. He was honoured with the SAMA Branch Award in 1975 and the Bronze Medal in 1997. He was the Ciskei Minister of Health from 1990 to 1993.
He joined the Rotary Club of Arcadia in 1984, and apart from an enforced break during his ministerial years, remained a member until his death. His input and energy were beyond compare, and his Rotarian achievements were recognised with the highest awards both locally and internationally. In 1997 he travelled extensively in Europe and North America, establishing personal links with Rotarians in the USA, Canada and Holland. He set up a system whereby redundant, but still highly useful, medical equipment would be collected, packed in containers and shipped to East London. In May 1998, the Rotary Medical Equipment Exchange, or ROMEX, was founded. To date, some 90 containers have arrived, with equipment valued at an estimated R160 million.
Through 'wish lists' received from hospitals and clinics throughout the Rotary District (and even from Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban), Henk meticulously compiled consignments of equipment for distribution. I spent many a Saturday morning in the warehouse helping with the sorting and packing. It is hard to believe how many boxes, beds and wheelchairs (not to mention the rest) will be disgorged by a single 40-foot container!
Throughout the years I knew Henk via Branch Council, Rotary and as a friend, I never heard him utter a boastful remark: he did indeed hide his lamp beneath a bushel. Long may his inspiration survive among those whose lives he touched.
Our sincerest condolences are offered to Sue, Henk's seven children and twelve grandchildren, and all the rest of the family.