Robotic surgery offering extended to 10 state sector patients

Posted on 3 Mar 2018

While awaiting pre-meds ahead of surgery to remove his prostate gland, Cape Town builder John Vraagom shared a few jokes. “My job is to build walls: I keep skelms out of your house,” he laughed. “Now tell me more about the robot that is going to cure my cancer!” 

What makes John stand out from other patients in ward B at Mediclinic Durbanville, aside from his quirky charm, is that he is a Tygerberg hospital patient. He has been on the state hospital waiting list for almost six months.

Dr Hilgard Ackerman, John’s urologist at Tygerberg hospital, is working together with Dr Gawie Bruwer to extend the offering of robotic surgery to 10 public sector patients. This forms part of Mediclinic’s ongoing collaboration with the Western Cape Department of Health.

John has had his share of heartache in his life. One of his four children died in a car accident when she was 19 years old. The sadness on his face slowly subsides as he speaks about his three surviving children, one of whom is a well-known film director and married to a leading lady on the popular soap, 7de Laan. “My children will visit me this evening. But I’m not worried! I feel really positive about today’s surgery,” he says.

A prostatectomy is by no means minor surgery – and is likely to save John’s life. “I’m very grateful to Mediclinic for this surgery. But mostly I am grateful to Dr Ackerman for arranging it for me,” the upbeat patient says.


As Dr Bruwer explains:

“The precision of the da Vinci aids the thorough removal of cancerous tissue as well as offering the ability to perform nerve-sparing surgery, which enables a faster return of erectile function as well as a better chance for urinary continence. I firmly believe that this technology is giving patients the option of improved clinical outcomes that may not be possible with open surgery”.

Dr Bruwer will operate on a further nine Tygerberg hospital patients over the coming months at Mediclinic Durbanville at no cost to either the Department of Health or the patient.

This forms part of a larger ongoing collaboration where Mediclinic has already partnered with the public sector on nearly 100 procedures over the last six months. This is the first time robotic surgery of this nature has been extended to state sector patients through the public-private collaboration.

The Mediclinic surgical facilities, access to the da Vinci robot, nursing staff and expertise from Mediclinic associated doctors, are provided free of charge in a collaboration with the local public-sector hospital.

Published in CSI