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Groote Schuur Hospital

Groote Schuur Hospital  © anders pearson, License

Groote Schuur Hospital

Groote Schuur Hospital

One of Cape Towns man made Landmarks is the Groote Schuur Hospital. The off-white painted, hospital buildings are built on the slopes of Devils Peak, and as such are set against the background of the beautiful mountain range that has become so iconic of Cape Town. During the 1600's the land that the hospital was on was a settler farm called Groote Schuur, which is Dutch for Great Barn. The hospital was first opened in 1938 and named after the original farm, but after 46 years the landmark had to undergo massive extensions to the original building in 1984. Two new wings were added to the hospital, and the original building was preserved. The original building currently houses several clinical academic departments and is also home to The Heart of Cape Town Museum.

One of the hospitals greatest moments was in December 1967, when a young University Of Cape Town educated surgeon named Dr Christiaan Barnard completed the world's first successful human heart transplant on Louis Washkansky. This catapulted bot Barnard and the hospital into the global spotlight. As one of the countries top government funded teaching hospitals, the hospital is staffed by highly experienced individuals who can typically be seen to be mentoring medical school students from the University of Cape Town who are completing the final period of their training. The hospital is internationally renowned as the training ground for some of South Africa's best doctors, surgeons and nurses, and this leads to an extremely high standard of care.

The Heart of Cape Town museum is dedicated to the major medical event performed by Barnard and the hospital staff. The human heart transplant that has, since its first successful implementation, saved the lives of tens of thousands of patients from around the world. A and B theatres are the original general surgery theatres used for the first heart transplant. They remain laid out in the museum to create a fully authentic representation of the pioneering operation. A tour of the museum covers the introductory room, accident room, animal laboratory, the race to transplant the first heart, a timeline of events that led up to the first heart transplant, the donor Denise Darvall and a Barnard exhibit. The Heart of Cape Museum is a true testament to the quality of South African medical practitioners, but also serves as a reminder that organ donors who die tragically are nonetheless heroic in their selfless commitment to a spirit of aiding others in their hour of desperation.

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