One of the first COVID-19 patients to receive a lung transplant in South Africa has died. Much-loved Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) anaesthetist Dr Michiel Botha underwent the ground-breaking surgery in February, reports The Herald. Botha, 61, had initially been recovering well post-surgery at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg but succumbed to complications on Tuesday night.
Friends, family and colleagues in the medical fraternity described him as a man loved by everyone and who stood for women in everything he did. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Botha worked at various hospitals across the city.
Botha continued with his duties at St George’s Hospital until he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on 19 November. Soon afterwards, he was admitted to a ward and spent about a week there until he was transferred to ICU and put on a ventilator.
In mid-December, he was airlifted by a specialist medical team and transferred to the Netcare Milpark Hospital, where he was connected to an ECMO (extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation) machine.
A friend and colleague of 21 years, nursing sister Dawn Scheepers said he was kept alive by this machine and a ventilator until a cadaver lung from a patient who had been in a car accident became available on 7 February. She said at one stage he was improving so much that the family believed he was on the home stretch.
Gqeberha gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Daniel Truter, who worked alongside Botha for about eight years, described him as a warm and caring professional who loved working in maternity with patients who went into labour.
Truter said Botha had a wonderful sense of humour and always lightened the mood. “He was always willing to come out at any time of the day or weekends to do epidurals. He had a great relationship with the maternity staff – they were very close.”
“He will be sorely missed by hospital staff, he had a good way with nursing staff, (he was) very respectful with patients and just his willingness to work whenever was amazing,” Truter said.