Specialist surgeon Dr Gert Du Toit, winner of the inaugural ‘Centre of the Year’ award from the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and metabolism (SASSO) pictured with the trophy he received for his work in laparoscopic gastric bypass procedures at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, in Durban. With him in the photograph are, from left to right, renowned endocrinologist and obesity specialist Professor Tess van der Merwe, Chairperson of SASSO, Heinrich Venter, general manager of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital and Dr Anchen Laubscher, medical director of Netcare. Photo: Netcare
The outstanding contribution of specialist surgeon, Dr Gert du Toit, for his work in laparoscopic gastric bypass procedures at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban, has been recognised with the inaugural ‘Centre of the Year’ award from the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and metabolism (SASSO).
Dr Du Toit says he was “blown away” when he was called on to accept the award on behalf of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital at a SASSO gala dinner held in Pretoria recently.
The SASSO Centre of the Year award is based on the criteria of patient outcomes, the centre’s adherence to SASSO protocols relating to gastric bypass surgery, as well as the growth that the centre has experienced.
During his acceptance speech, Dr Du Toit paid tribute to the pioneering work and leadership role of the renowned endocrinologist and obesity specialist, Professor Tess van der Merwe, who was responsible for the establishment of the five centres of excellence for metabolic medicine and surgery at Netcare hospitals, offering patients access to specialised bariatric surgery, and for the high standards of expertise and quality which are adhered to throughout each of these specialised centres. Professor Van der Merwe, who is the chairperson of SASSO, was also instrumental in the establishment of SASSO, the official South African body for weight loss surgery and for setting high standards of bariatric care throughout South Africa.
“Prof Tess sets the bar extremely high and is a perfectionist of the highest order. Under her aegis the bariatric centres of excellence within Netcare have grown from strength to strength, delivering solid outcomes while changing the lives of many South Africans,” says Dr Du Toit.
“Our practice, Durban Bariatric Surgery which is based at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, started performing laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery as the preferred procedure for morbid obesity and associated illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, in 2006. Over the past 11 years we have performed close on 400 such procedures, and have achieved some wonderful and long-lasting results for our patients. We are extremely honoured to be the first recipient of the Centre of the Year award from SASSO.
“This would not have been possible without the support, high ethical standards and technical prowess of my surgical partner Dr Ivor Funnell. We have worked together hand-in-glove since 2003, at all times bringing out the best in each other and complementing one another’s skills, always to the benefit of our patients.
“This award serves as official recognition of our work, which is particularly rewarding because we see the appreciable positive difference it makes in the lives of our patients once they start to see the benefits of the surgery. Not only do most of our patients feel more confident, with improved self-esteem benefitting many different aspects of their lives, but we have also noted impressive results in terms of the reversal of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and a wide range of other obesity-related and metabolic health conditions,” notes Dr Du Toit.
Gastric bypass surgery reduces the stomach capacity and food transit time to assist suitable patients to lose weight, which in turn has positive health effects as it can help to restore the body’s metabolic processes. Surgery of this nature can only be undertaken following assessment by a multidisciplinary team, including recommendations from endocrinologists and psychologists. Post-operative care and support are also imperative, and are bolstered by a bariatric support group hosted by a dietician.
“This achievement and the work that got us to this point were truly a team effort by the administrative staff, specialists, other healthcare professionals, combined with the support of the hospital management, the top notch surgical facilities and equipment provided by Netcare, and the quality care provided the hospital’s nursing staff. This acknowledgement is a reflection of the contributions each has made towards providing our patients with hope for the future and a new lease on life,” Dr Du Toit asserts.
“It is extremely gratifying for us that Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital has been acknowledged through its association with the practice of Drs Du Toit, Funnell and Partners by SASSO, a highly-esteemed national authority,” says Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division.
“The work that the multidisciplinary team, led by Dr Du Toit, have done at the hospital has been nothing short of life-changing for so many individuals. The kudos bestowed by SASSO is testimony to the hard work and exceptional expertise of the team, whom Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital staff support with our particular emphasis on care,” Du Plessis adds.
Du Plessis says that the SASSO recognition is all the more rewarding by virtue of the objective criteria on which the award is based, and the professional stature of the panel that makes the selection for Centre of the Year.
“On behalf of Netcare’s hospital division, we congratulate Dr Du Toit and everyone who has contributed towards this milestone, which firmly places Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital on the map for metabolic surgery,” Du Plessis concluded.