Renowned surgeon launches cardiac foundation for African children

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Professor Rob Kinsley

While many people of his age would be retired, world renowned heart surgeon Professor Rob Kinsley, 77, is still performing miracles on the operating table. The Sunday Independent reports that the doctor from Durban who pioneered paediatric cardiac surgery is launching a foundation to save the lives of African children born with congenital heart defects who do not have access to medical aid.

Congenital heart defects arise from problems with the structure of the heart that are present at birth.

The report says that after 50 years of heart surgery Kinsley, who has performed more than 15,000 open heart surgeries during his career, said that his life’s purpose would not be fulfilled if he did not leave behind a legacy.

He is expected to launch the Children’s Cardiac Foundation of South Africa, in association with Lenmed eThekwini Hospital & Heart Centre, at a function being hosted in his honour at the Oyster Box Hotel in Durban.


Kinsley said there were thousands of children, born with congenital heart defects, who could not afford private health care and were also unable to get necessary treatment at state hospitals due to a serious skills shortage. “It is imperative that a foundation be formed to help these little patients,” said Kingsley. “My vision is to help save as many lives as I can, while I am still able to.”

He said he often received requests from all over Africa regarding children who desperately needed treatment. Kinsley added that the foundation also aimed to train doctors across Africa to perform cardiac surgery.

The report says Kinsley’s career as a heart surgeon began in 1968, a year after Dr Christiaan Barnard conducted the world’s first heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1978, Kinsley made headlines when he performed world-first heart surgery on 18-month-old Jacques Nagel, born with an extremely rare condition – where the blood from his lungs was draining to his liver instead of his heart.

Kinsley used tissue from an ox to enlarge the boy’s heart.

Sunday Independent report

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