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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

versão On-line ISSN 2224-9435
versão impressa ISSN 1019-9128

J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. vol.93 no.2 Pretoria  2022 



The first caesarean operation on a mare in South Africa



Dear Editor,

Re: The first caesarean operation on a mare in South Africa

I recently came across an article in the Journal of the South African Veterinary Association, titled, "A brief history of equine private practice in South Africa," by CHB Marlow.

In this article it states that, ". ..In 1967 Marius van Tonder was transferred to the VIC, Middelburg and Chris Marlow performed, as far as can be ascertained, the 1st caesarean section on a thoroughbred mare in SA."

I would like to challenge this incorrect version of history, and state that the first caesarean section in South Africa was conducted 65 years ago in 1957 by my grandfather, Dr Mieczyslaw (Mietek) Jan de Sas Kropiwnicki.

This successful operation was published in The Veterinary Record in 1958, attached please find a copy of his article in Figures 1-2 (Kropiwnicki 1958).





With this in mind, I would like the Journal of the South African Veterinary Association to acknowledge that Dr Mieczyslaw (Mietek) Jan de Sas Kropiwnicki was the leading South African (or even African) pioneer in this field.

Dr Mieczyslaw Jan de Sas Kropiwnicki (24/2/1912-15/8/1971), also known as "Dr de Sas" was born in Nizniow, Poland on 24 January 1912 and graduated as a veterinarian in Poland. As his qualification was not recognised in the UK, he took his MRCVS in Glasgow. In 1948, he came to South Africa and practised in the Transvaal. Subsequently, he moved to Tweespruit, Ladybrand and Barkley East, where he practised from 1952 to 1966. From 1966 to 1969, he served as Government Veterinary Officer on contract to the Botswana Government. He was stationed at Machaneng in the Tuli Block. While in Botswana, he suffered a stroke and had to retire. He died on 15 August 1971.

Interestingly, this event was also informally described by the wife of Dr de Sas, Ms Aleksandra de Sas Kropiwnicka in Chapter X of her book titled, "Olerika in Africa". and later by myself. (Knott 2021)

Attached please find some photos for your interest (Figures 3-6).









Michael Knott

School of Pharmacy, University of Namibia, Namibia Email:



Knott, M., Witkowski, M., 2021, Dr Mieczyslaw Jan de Sas Kropiwnicki (1912-1971): The first Polish veterinarian to perform a caesarean section on a brood mare, Med Weter 77(2), 106-110.         [ Links ]

Kropiwnicki, M.J.S.,1958, Caesarean operation on a mare, Vet Rec 70(27), 557.         [ Links ]

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