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Achievements and Milestones

As the only stand-alone specialist hospital in southern Africa dedicated entirely to children, the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital has a long list of successes and milestones within paediatric healthcare on the African continent:

  • 1950s
    • 1956 – The first neonatal surgery unit in South Africa.
    • 1959 - The first open-heart surgery on a child in South Africa.
  • 1960s
    • 1964 - The first successful separation of conjoined-twins in South Africa.
    • The first dedicated "Drip Room" or rehydration programme for infants with gastroenteritis in South Africa.
    • The first management of neonates with tetanus using paralysis and ventilation techniques in South Africa.
    • The first paediatric Cardiac Catheter Laboratory in South Africa, providing assessments for corrective heart surgery.
    • The first paediatric Electroencephalogram Laboratory in South Africa assisting in the assessment of neurological disorders including epilepsy.
    • The first paediatric Intensive Care Unit in Africa.
    • The first dedicated children’s cancer service in South Africa.
  • 1970s
    • The first Poisons Information Centre in South Africa.
    • The first tertiary Hospital in South Africa to host a Paediatric Clinical Nurse Associate and Clinical Nurse Practitioner programme.
    • 1978 – The first and only centre for child accident prevention in South Africa – Childsafe.
  • 1980s
    • 1981 - The first lumbrosacral selective rhizotomy for spasticity.
    • 1984 - The first and only dedicated paediatric trauma unit in South Africa.
    • 1989 – The first tracheostomy and ventilation home care programme in South Africa that enables children with these problems to be managed at home. This programme has established outreach programmes to train nursing staff in tracheostomy care at Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban.
  • 1990s
    • 1990 - The first paediatric heart transplant in South Africa.
    • 1991 - The first liver transplant programme for children in Africa.
    • 1997 - The first combined liver and kidney transplant on a child in South Africa.
  • 2000s
    • 2001 - The first autologous epithelial autograft on a burn patient.
    • 2002 - The first and only 'bench surgery' for bilateral kidney tumours in a child.
    • 2002 - The first living-related liver transplant in South Africa.
    • 2009 - A new state-of the-art Operating Theatre Complex including eight fully equipped operating theatres; three fully digitalised. The new digital installation is the first of its kind and sophistication in sub-Saharan Africa and is technically on a par with the most advanced installations in the US, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Australia.
    • 2009 - The first Family Resource Centre in South Africa. The Centre is managed by the volunteer organization Friends of the Children’s Hospital Association.
    • 2011 - The only specialised paediatric Burns Unit in Africa. The Unit treats approximately 3 500 children with burns each year. The modernised facilities in the new upgraded Burns Unit are on a par with the ICU level of critical care and international standards. It has immediate operating-theatre and intensive-care-treatment access and offers a full range of support services and specialties such as plastic surgery, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, pain management, music and art therapy, aromatherapy, and social services.
    • 2011 – The new Surgical Skills Training Centre is the first and only of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa to offer training in paediatric Endoscopic Surgery. This high technology Training Centre, will also train surgeons in adult and paediatric Endoscopic (Minimally Invasive) Surgery, general surgery and complimentary specialties. This new 9-station Surgical Skills Training Centre is ideally placed to develop and improve Endoscopic Surgery skills, locally and on the African continent.