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May 9, 2021

Warm friendship between South African and Romanian surgeons saved thousands of lives

These days, as we remember the life and dedication of the renowned cardiologist and Head of Romanian Scientists Academy, professor Vasile Candea, who passed away on 15.01.2020, we also have in mind the beautiful friendship and fruitful cooperation between Romanian and South African surgeons who saved thousands of lives together, with a common sense of purpose.

Professor Vasile Candea worked closely with South African surgeon Marius Barnard, who participated in the ground breaking world’s first human-to-human heart transplantation. Exchange of experience was performed by Romanian and South African teams of cardiologists who operated in Cape Town, at Groote Schuur Hospital, and in Bucharest under the supervision of dr. Barnard.

Professor Candea fondly spoke of his South African friend during an interview: ”In 1982 I received the visit of Marius Barnard. He spent a month at the Military Hospital in Bucharest and we operated together. We all learnt from him. At Cape Town hospital Barnard used to video-record all surgical interventions and all patients had access to these records. He said that a surgeon must learn from success and also from failures. He should have the courage to assume failures and not blame the others . First of all, a surgeon should check whether it is his mistake and judge himself. (…) Following Marius Barnard’s example, we installed a video camera that could be accessed from doctors office”, professor Candea explained.

Since 1976, the visits of professor Marius Barnard boosted, added impetus and improved open-heart surgery with a resultant increase in diversity and number of operations from 300 to 500 per year.  Thousands of patients benefited from this scientific cooperation between the two countries, which upgraded and added value to the Romanian heart surgery system.

The South African Embassy extends sincere condolences to the people of Romania following the passing away of this fallen hero in the field of medicine. His soul may have departed, but his good deeds will remain for ever in the memories of both countries.


Issued by the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in Romania


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