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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.101 n.1 Cape Town Jan. 2011




Mphako Charles Martin Modiba (1 november 1952 - 28 october 2010)




Professor Mphako Charles Modiba, the eldest son of Matome Titus and the late Salome Maletlabo Modiba, was born on 1 November 1952 at Pietersburg Hospital. He matriculated from Hwiti High School in 1971. He followed his calling in the field of medical science with dedication, empathy and a drive to impart his knowledge with those who had the opportunity and privilege to be his audience.

He was awarded his MB ChB in 1976 at the University of Natal. He topped the graduation list and was awarded the most prizes at the Hippocratic Oath Ceremony for best final-year student for obstetrics, gynaecology and surgery as well as the student who showed the greatest promise in the final exam. He did his internship at Baragwanath Hospital.

He returned to Baragwanath and Natalspruit in 1979 as a medical officer, after spending a year studying at Natal University, and joined the registrar circuit at Baragwanath Hospital from 1980 until 1983. He was admitted as a Fellow of the College for Surgeons in 1982 and received the Michael and Janie Miller Prize for Surgery in the same year for his outstanding performance in the College examinations. He obtained his MMed in Surgery at Wits University with a dissertation on 'The effect of anterior highly selective vagotomy and posterior selective vagotomy on gastric emptying and mucosal histology'. His supervisor for this thesis was Professor Buddy Lawson. This was also the title of his presentation at the Surgical Research Society and the abstract was published in the South African Journal of Surgery in 1984.

He was registered as a general surgeon in 1984 and was appointed as a specialist at Baragwanath Hospital. Thereafter he became actively involved in research and started writing and co-authoring a number of papers.

He was awarded the Michael and Janie Miller Travelling Fellowship in 1985 on the basis of his promise in academic surgery and as a result visited the well-known hepatic unit of Professor Les Blumgart at the Hammersmith Hospital in London for six months. Shortly after his return to Johannesburg he was promoted to senior surgeon at Baragwanath.

In late 1989 he was awarded the North-Western University Faculty Fellowship, working in Dr J S Wolf 's transplantation research unit in Chicago to further his studies in kidney transplantation. It was during this period that he developed his interest in renal transplantation.

It is also during this period that he did the bulk of the work on his Doctorate in Philosophy, which he was awarded when he moved to the Medical University of Southern Africa (Medunsa). His supervisor for this work was Professor Bert Myburgh and the thesis was entitled 'The effect of distal splenorenal shunting on hepatic perfusion and function of patients with bleeding oesophageal varices in schistosomiasis'. In 1990 he was one of two black surgeons at Baragwanath Hospital who could perform full transplants and the only black specialist in kidney and liver surgery.

He was a Professor and Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Limpopo, Medunsa Campus, for 18 years. He was a dedicated clinician. He was well respected and duly acknowledged for his responsibility towards training and encouraging young African doctors to pursue further studies and specialise. He trained 31 African surgeons, of whom 14 were admitted as Fellow of the College of Surgeons (SA).

To his family he was a devoted and loving husband, a responsible and caring father, a playful and enthusiastic grandfather who will be sorely missed. He is survived by his four sisters, his two brothers, wife Lebitsi Maud Modiba, his children Matome Titus Modiba (son) and Mosa Mmankoana Flora Sibanyoni and two grandchildren Khushulwayo and Kgotso Sibanyoni.

Robala ka khutso Kgomo!


Mamoroke Lehobye (cousin of Charles Modiba)

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