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Surgeon and Gardener (2 June 2009)

Written by TVSA Team from the blog Special Assignment on 02 Jun 2009
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Coming up on Special Assignment tonight:

Episode Title: Surgeon and Gardener
Broadcast date: Tuesday, 2 June 2009

naki_chris

In December 1967, Professor Chris Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town.

But did he?

Tonight Special Assignment presents the documentary, Hidden Heart which explores the role of Hamilton Naki, a former gardener at Groote Schuur, in an event that pummeled South Africa into the international spotlight.

A self-taught surgeon who learned his craft in Groote Schuur’s animal research laboratory, he was awarded the National Order of Mapungubwe by former President Thabo Mbeki in 2002.

Naki’s contribution towards pioneering organ transplantation in South Africa is well-known and documented. But how much did he have to do with the historic operation? In this documentary, Naki, who is now dead, makes a startling claim: he personally removed the heart of the dead donor, and handed it to Barnard for the transplant.

Special Assignment looks back at the story of Chris Barnard and Hamilton Naki. The show speaks to theatre staff who were there that night, and asks them about Hamilton Naki’s claim.

The programme also interviews the film’s director, to ask what motivated her interest in the story.



Special Assignment is on SABC3 on Tuesdays at 20h31.



16 Comments

Green.arrow
02 Jun 2009 17:36

A self-taught surgeon who learned his craft in Groote Schuur’s animal research laboratory
..its amazing this story sounds like the one the Mos Def portrayd (4got the name...the black man's name was Viviane)....

sweetie my baby
02 Jun 2009 18:03

green - it is almost EXACTLY that story, crazy how these things happened both in america and S.A., ne?

heartbreaking, really. and to think they're both true stories. the crap that black people had to put up with....

Brown Shuga
02 Jun 2009 19:40

Which Mos Def movie guys??? I like him in movies, have'nt seen that one.

Tjo, I'm gonna watch this tonight....what's on Debra's show?

mjj
02 Jun 2009 19:49

happy belated befdat smb.................

Green.arrow
02 Jun 2009 20:19

Something the Lord Made.....is the name of the movie BS.....beautiful movie (its in my archives) u must put on a serious face when u watch this one coz its pretty deep.....and there is also Gabrille Union for eye treat....

FK
02 Jun 2009 20:45

So Hamilton could also do a liver transplant sumfing Dr Barnard couldnt do?

FK
02 Jun 2009 20:50

I, I, I remove it, I teach them.  Noone teach me anything.  I teach them.

FK
02 Jun 2009 21:00

I'm still confused?  Did he or did he not?  Did apartheid play any role here?

Green.arrow
02 Jun 2009 21:07

...FK....lol...but ur wrong man!
..did he remove the heart or did he wheel the body of the person out...i did not understand...could they have found an interpreter..makgowa a rata go re ropa 4 their own gains..

I know i dont understand investigative journalism,....but once again im left wondering what the directionn of this show was....was it to highligh on the new york times's failed attmpt at this story....or was it to show there is a story here or what....
only 2wards the end did i agree with a couple of things...
that whether or not he removed the heart, held it, passed it on to sumone etc..(i ddnt understand)....He still deserves to be celebrated...he was surgicaly competent without any training...amazing!!! we ought to be proud!

FK
02 Jun 2009 21:15

I agree with you GA - we need to be proud of this man.  He also demonstrated to university student how to remove organs. Clearly there were cameras present in that first operation.  Cant they take them out and check?  eish, they were black and white.  Problem - can't even tell by their straight hair and sharp noses - wearing masks.  It is a mystery.

Green.arrow
02 Jun 2009 21:20

...its a mistery indeed...especially because the Barnard family dont agree with the allegations..
.....someone?..must go out now and give us this man's story.....

cleve
03 Jun 2009 12:16

I know i dont understand investigative journalism,....but once again im left wondering what the directionn of this show was....was it to highligh on the new york times's failed attmpt at this story....or was it to show there is a story here or what....

@ GA,
nami I didn't understand what the point of the show was. 

I also watched the movie and I thought of this whole Chris Barnaard Story.

Brown Shuga
03 Jun 2009 13:02

<<<<know i dont understand investigative journalism,....but once again im left wondering what the directionn of this show was....was it to highligh on the new york times's failed attmpt at this story....or was it to show there is a story here or what....>>>> So so so so true...I was flippen upset that I wasted my time to watch something that has NO conclusion. Nx..
If this was on Debra's 3rd Degree we would have had an answer.

Cande
03 Jun 2009 13:14

I take my head off for Hamilton Naki, and he got a gardener's retirement fund when he taught some UCT students to remove organs? eish

felfel
03 Jun 2009 13:21

I somehow doubt they would have let him assist in the operation to that level, especially since it was the first surgery of that nature to be performed in SA and remember whites were very sensitive at that time and to let a black uneducated rural man to perform a heart transplant on a white woman would have been unheard off, i mean they made him operate on rats for heavens sake.

AdamB
09 Jun 2009 11:47

The one person that can tell the truth is Dr Marius Barnard as he was the cardiac surgeon that took the heart out of Denise Darval and gave it to his brother Chris. He is still alive today at the ripe old age of 82 and he is very surprised that no one consulted him recently with regard to this fabrication. Hamilton Naki was a very competent laboratory assistant and given the right opportunities he would more than likely have made a fantastic doctor. Unfortunately for Hamilton Naki was alive during the apartheid area and he did not get these opportunity.
The sad fact of this report is that the truth did not come out as the journalists did not do their homework and consequently degenerates all the faithfull and dedicated medical staff efforts and all the families of the donor and recipient.
The truth is that the closest Hamilton Naki was on the night of the 2nd December 1967 was about 12 km in his bed sleeping at home.

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