Black labourer who became a surgeon dies

Black labourer who became a surgeon dies
June 13, 2005
Tags: Hamilton Naki , South Africa, heroes, surgeon, AP

From labourer to surgeon … Hamilton Naki, an unsung pioneer of transplant medicine.

Photo: AP

Hamilton Naki, a labourer who became a self-taught surgeon of such skill that Dr Christiaan Barnard chose him to help in the world’s first human heart transplant, has died. He was believed to have been 78.

The 1967 transplant, at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, made medical history. It made Barnard, who was young, handsome – and white, world famous. But Barnard only acknowledged Naki’s work in 1991, after the end of apartheid. Barnard, in an interview shortly before dying in 2001, called Naki “one of the great researchers of all time in the field of heart transplants”.

The cause of Naki’s death on May 29 at his home near Cape Town, was heart trouble, African and British newspapers said. Naki, who left school at 14 and had no formal medical training, spent five decades working at the University of Cape Town. Originally hired as a gardener in about 1940, he acquired his formidable surgical skills through years of silent observation and covert practice at the university’s medical school. He retired in 1991.

Although South Africa’s apartheid laws forbade blacks from performing surgery on whites, Naki’s skills were so esteemed that the university quietly looked the other way. He worked alongside Barnard for decades as a lab technician, perfecting his craft and assisting in many operations on people. Operating on animals, Naki taught surgical techniques to generations of medical students. During his years at the university, Naki lived on the outskirts of Cape Town in a one-room shack without electricity or running water. When he retired, he was paid a gardener’s pension, far less than a lab technician’s. In an interview in 2003, Naki expressed little bitterness about a lifetime spent working in the shadows. “I was called one of the backroom boys,” he said. “They put the white people out front. If people published pictures of me, they would have gone to jail.”

The New York Times
Sourced from http://www.smh.com.au/news/World/Selftaught-but-special-to-the-end/2005/06/12/1118514927392.html

*

ON DECEMBER 3rd, 1967, the body of a young woman was brought to Hamilton Naki for dissection. She had been knocked down by a car as she went to buy a cake on a street in Cape Town, in South Africa. Her head injuries were so severe that she had been pronounced brain-dead at the hospital, but her heart, uninjured, had gone on furiously pumping.
Mr Naki was not meant to touch this body. The young woman, Denise Darvall, was white, and he was black. The rules of the hospital, and indeed the apartheid laws of the land, forbade him to enter a white operating theatre, cut white flesh, or have dealings with white blood. For Mr Naki, however, the Groote Schuur hospital had made a secret exception. This black man, with his steady, dexterous hands and razor-sharp mind, was simply too good at the delicate, bloody work of organ transplantation. The chief transplant surgeon, the young, handsome, famously temperamental Christiaan Barnard, had asked to have him on his team. So the hospital had agreed, saying, as Mr Naki remembered, “Look, we are allowing you to do this, but you must know that you are black and that’s the blood of the white.…

Sourced from http://www.economist.com/PrinterFriendly.cfm?Story_ID=4054912

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6 Responses to “Black labourer who became a surgeon dies”

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  4. craiglock Says:

    Hi

    CAN’T KEEP UP…BUT THANKS FOR THE “THANX”
    MANY MORE COMMENTS OVERNIGHT and many hundreds of thousands already on my various other blogs at http://craigsblogs.wordpress.com/…true!) …so hope it’s not slowing down your loading speed!). Am really pleased you are enjoying my writings, as the reason I write is to share.
    So sorry can’t reply individually to all you good people scattered around the planet, but DO try to read as many as possible daily (and even moderate a few when I get a “mo”),

    I do really appreciate your liking, linking to and/or following this blog (and “writing in”), so “thanks for the thanx”

    “As we live and move and have our being, so from this vision, we create heaven in our own lives… and perhaps even heaven on earth.”
    – craig (as inspired by Acts 17:28 and the words of Felicia Searcy)

    “Aim at the earth and you may not get off the ground.
    “Aim at the stars and you may reach the moon.”
    “Aim at heaven and you’ll have earth thrown in…
    and you may even hit the stars.”
    – craig (as inspired by the famous quote by CS Lewis – 24th May 2012)

    “When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
    – Leonardo da Vinci

    “If a man is called to be a street-sweeper,
    he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,
    or Beethoven composed music, or
    Shakespeare wrote poetry.
    He should sweep streets so well
    that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say,
    here lived a great street sweeper
    who did his job well.”
    – Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

    PPS
    Instead of trying to reply to each one of you, I’ll just keep on writing

    “If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d type a little faster.”
    The various books that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005GGMAW4 http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=la_B005GGMAW4_sr?rh=i%3Abooks&field-author=Craig+Lock&sort=relevance&ie=UTF8&qid http://goo.gl/vTpjk and http://www.creativekiwis.com/amazon.html
    All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children –
    MINE!

    ”Since I can never see your face,
    And never shake you by the hand,
    I send my soul through time and space
    To greet you. You will understand.”

    – James Elroy Flecker (1884-1915)

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  5. craiglock Says:

    Reblogged this on From Seeds of Hope To Endless Possibilities.

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  6. craiglock Says:

    Hi to all you “out there in cyberspace”

    Pleased you all like this post (or quote) and thanks for linking to and/or following this blog. I’ve had many hundreds of links already since posting, so thank you so much. With so many blogs and books to write and manage (and so little time in a day and night) unfortunately I can’t return the favour, but your actions are much appreciated. Instead of replying individually, I’ll just carry on writing… “till I drop” *…

    All the best

    craig

    “If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d ask, ‘Can I finish off this article?”… then I’d just type a little faster.”

    The various books* that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=la_B005GGMAW4_sr?rh=i%3Abooks&field-author=Craig+Lock
    http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005GGMAW4 and http://goo.gl/vTpjk
    All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children –
    MINE!

    ”Since I can never see your face,
    And never shake you by the hand,
    I send my soul through time and space
    To greet you. You will understand.”
    – James Elroy Flecker (1884-1915)

    Don’t worry about the world ending today…
    it’s already tomorrow in “little scenic and tranquil” New Zealand

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