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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.100 n.12 Pretoria Dec. 2010




Des Dall (10 july 1936 -29 august 2010)




Des Dall died in Hermanus on 29 August 2010 after a long battle with cancer of the oesophagus.

Des was a giant in every sense of the word, and made a major contribution to orthopaedic surgery, not only in South Africa, but also internationally. He qualified at UCT in 1959, and followed up with an FRCS (Edin) in 1964, and MCh (Liverpool) in 1968. His interest in hip replacement led him to work with Sir John Charnley in 1969, who pioneered hip replacement surgery.

Des was one of the very first people to confine his practice exclusively to the hip, particularly joint replacement. He designed and patented a trochanter cable grip system, which was a considerable improvement on the original wires used by Charnley. He also published extensively, particularly, but not exclusively, on hip surgery. With the worldwide success of his cable grip system there also came significant financial reward. In 1987 Des was appointed Professor of Orthopaedics in Los Angeles, USA, a position he held for 10 years. He retired in 1997, and moved back to Hermanus, which remained one of his favourite places despite extensive travelling to introduce the cable grip system worldwide.

Des spent his last years enjoying the fruits of his success. He and his wife, Kinki, travelled extensively, and he also tried hard to improve his golf handicap! Sadly, his health started failing three years ago, but with typical tenacity and grit he faced the inevitable with great fortitude. In this he was lucky to have had his wonderful wife of nearly 50 years at his side.

Des is survived by Kinki, three daughters, and six grandchildren.


C P van der Merwe

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