Surgeons honoured for awake craniotomy on guitar-strumming musician

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The removal of a brain tumour from a musician while he strummed his guitar on the operating table has earned two Durban neuro-surgeons top honours from the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department, reports The Times. Dr Rohen Harrichandparsad and Dr Basil Enicker were among several state health care staff who were recognised at the recent annual service excellence awards in Pietermaritzburg.

The report says the neurosurgery team from the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital made international headlines when they removed a tumour from musician Musa Manzini’s brain in a procedure known as “awake craniotomy” in December last year. The procedure is fairly standard, but this was the first time medical staff had a musician on their table playing an instrument as they worked.

A video of the six-hour surgery went viral shortly after the operation.

A month after the operation Manzini, 47, well-known in jazz circles, was given a clean bill of health.

Harrichandparsad is quoted in the report as saying that he was “pleased, privileged and humbled by the recognition” they had received. “Success is earned in the service of others and I consider myself fortunate to be given the opportunity to succeed,” he said.

The report says Dr Khayelihle Ngcobo, also from Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, was recognised for graduating as a cardio-thoracic surgeon against considerable odds, and for being a role model for others. Another medical expert, Dr Lindiwe Sidali, was honoured for graduating as the first black female cardio-thoracic surgeon in South Africa and one of only a few on the continent.

An emergency medical services team was lauded for “their heroic efforts during the rescue of a baby who had been thrown into a storm-water drain in Newlands East, Durban, in February, while Dr Timothy Hardcastle from the trauma unit at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital was recognised for successfully treating the rescued baby.

Security guard Nkanyiso Xaba was recognised for his bravery after rescuing patients during a fire outbreak at Umphumulo Hospital, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, also in February.

Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo is quoted in the report as saying the awards helped boost the morale of dedicated health care workers.

The Times report

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