Doctors and medicine in the Karoo

Cecil Alport and nephritis

Cecil Alport, the son of a Beaufort West shopkeeper’s assistant, studied at the University of Cape Town and in Europe. He also returned briefly to South Africa and in time pioneered a cure for a nephritis, a kidney complaint, which was named Alport’s Disease in his honour.  In the early 1900s he wrote an exposé […]

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Chris Barnard: Hero of heart transplants

Christiaan Neethling Barnard was the son of a Beaufort West mission preacher. He rocketed to world fame on December 3, 1967, when he transplanted the world’s first human heart. On that historic day his brother, Marius, was a member of the transplant team. Marius rose from the same humble beginnings to become a highly respected […]

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Deelfontein Hospitaal, De Aar, treating the British wounded

During the Anglo-Boer War, Dr J Purvis-Stewart, called the Karoo a “place to see”.   He was one of the doctors sent to South Africa in 1901with the Imperial Yeomanry Bearer Company – the first company of its kind raised ever established by private funding. In his biography, Sands of Time, he wrote: “After three weeks’ tedious […]

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DP de Villiers, famous doctor from the Karoo

Daniel Pieter de Villiers, born in Beaufort West in 1900, and fondly known as “DP”, studied medicine at the Universities of Cape Town and Liverpool in England. At the latter, he met the great, highly respected, internationally known, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Blair Bell, who became a lifelong friend. Blair guided DP on a […]

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Dr Albert Hoffa, a son of Richmond

Richmond’s Dr Maurice Hoffa’s son, Albert, also played a pivotal role in medicine. He studied in Germany and followed Julius Wolff (known for Wolff’s Law) as a professor at the University of Berlin. He described a rare fracture of the knee, characterized by enlargement of the fat pad and aggravated by exercise. It was named […]

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John Fraser, doctor and lawyer of the Karoo

In time the herbalist healers were joined by highly-educated, well-qualified counterparts who arrived armed with degrees from top European universities. Among them was John Fraser, the eldest son of Beaufort West’s Dutch Reformed minister Rev Colin Fraser, and his second wife, Maria Elizabeth Sieberhagen. John studied medicine at Kings College, in Aberdeen, Scotland, returned to […]

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Lionel Opie, heart specialist from Hanover

Another son of the Karoo, who hails from Hanover, also hit world medical headlines. Lionel Henry Opie, considered one of the world’s foremost scholars of heart disease, was inspired by three men – Lister, Leonard Flemming and Professor Chris Barnard.  Lionel was only 12 when Fleming received the Nobel Prize, yet he vowed he would […]

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Medical staff at Noupoort during the Anglo-Boer War

Many countries and Red Cross type organisations sent equipment and personnel to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Among these was a group of Scots from Edinburgh who collected £12 000 to establish and staff a hospital, writes professor J C (Kay) de Villiers in Healers, Helpers and Hospitals.  Personnel embarked on the SS Briton […]

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Military surgeon’s medals fetch a top price

In March, 2011, a rare group of 22 orders and medals came up for sale at Smiths Newent, a Gloucestershire-based auction house in England.  Said to be the “pick of the lots”, they were valued at £15,000 and there was a healthy interest in these medals as they had belonged one of Britain’s top military […]

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Nathan Finkelstein and Eugene Weinberg: leading medical specialists

Yet another Beaufort Wester who has made a name for himself in medicine was Nathan Finkelstein, known throughout South Africa as Mr Pharmacy. Natie’s lifelong friend, Beaufort Wester Eugene Weinberg, went on to become one of South Africa’s leading paediatric allergists and head of the Department of Paediatrics at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in […]

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