Prestigious Christiaan Barnard Memorial Award for Johannesburg trauma surgeon
Renowned trauma surgeon, Professor Elias Degiannis, has been recognised for his extraordinary contribution in the fields of trauma medicine and critical care and for his long and distinguished service to the people of South Africa, by being awarded the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Medal by Netcare. Prof Degiannis, whose career in medicine spanned more than 40 years, was honoured at a function held at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg where he has worked since 1996. He has also served the University of the Witwatersrand’s Department of Surgery and Leratong Hospital. The Netcare Group’s chief executive officer, Dr Richard Friedland, Netcare South West regional director, Sandile Mbele and a host of other luminaries from the medical, trauma and critical care sectors attended the event.
“Professor Degiannis has had a long and most distinguished career, which commenced as a doctor with the Greek Navy back in 1975. He made a most outstanding contribution not only to the development of South African critical care medicine, but also through his treatment of thousands of trauma patients, many of whose lives he saved,” said Dr Friedland at the event.
“We also honour Professor Degiannis’ considerable contribution to the Netcare Milpark Hospital Level 1 trauma centre, which is today acknowledged as one of the country’s finest, as well as his academic and teaching contribution within the critical care sector in South Africa, which has earned him local and international recognition,” added Dr Friedland. “His achievements within and dedication to, the medical profession In South Africa deserve every recognition and he is without doubt a worthy and outstanding recipient of the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Award.”
Founded in 2011, the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Award, an initiative of Netcare in association with the Christiaan Barnard Foundation, pays tribute to doctors who practice at healthcare facilities within the Netcare Group and who have demonstrated leadership in their specific field whilst contributing to the advancement of the medical profession. Professor Degiannis is the 35th medical professional to have been bestowed this honour.
According to Dr Anchen Laubscher, medical director of the Netcare Group, Professor Degiannis, who emigrated from Greece to South Africa 28 years ago and will soon be retiring in his country of birth, has over his long career been particularly prolific in the areas of trauma unit organisation, trauma surgery education and critical care research.
“One of his most important contributions to South African medicine has undoubtedly been in the development of the trauma and critical care systems within both private and public sectors,” noted Dr Laubscher. “He certainly left an indelible mark on Netcare Milpark Hospital’s critical care system, assisting the trauma centre to achieve accreditation to Level 1 by the Trauma Society of South Africa [TSSA], the first facility of its kind to be so acknowledged and was also a driving force behind the country’s first private burns unit at the facility.”
Dr Laubscher noted that Professor Degiannis’s research and academic contributions have served to strengthen critical care medicine not only in South Africa but also globally. He taught established international trauma courses in 14 developed countries worldwide, served on numerous trauma and critical care bodies and contributed many academic papers aimed at strengthening trauma care around the world.
“I am deeply honoured and humbled to be the recipient of the prestigious Christiaan Barnard Memorial Award,” said Professor Degiannis at the event. “It has been an immense privilege and pleasure to be able to contribute to the critical care sector in South Africa and to have been a part of the dedicated trauma teams at Netcare Milpark Hospital over the last two decades.
“I take with me many meaningful and fond memories of my time in South Africa and would like to thank all of those individuals who supported and assisted me in my work over the years,” he added.
Professor Degiannis immigrated to South Africa in 1991 and was first employed as a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand and senior consultant surgeon at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Johannesburg. He became the head of a general surgical unit at the hospital in 1993, where he developed special interests in trauma surgery and oesophageal cancer.
He became an associate professor in 2001 and ad hominem professor of surgery of the University of the Witwatersrand in 2006. Professor Degiannis was the head of the Trauma Directorate at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and Professor Emeritus at the Department of Surgery, University of the Witwatersrand, until the end of 2015.
Prof Degiannis has been awarded honorary memberships/fellowships from the Hellenic Trauma Society, the Brazilian College of Surgeons, the Association of Surgeons of Spain, the German Surgical Society, the Finnish Trauma Society, as well as the Silver and the Gold Cross of Honour of the German Armed Forces.
He was an overseas assessor for academic promotion to the level of associate professorship and chair of surgery in several European medical schools. He was also a member of the International Relations Committee of the American College of Surgeons (Educational Sub-committee and International Relations Sub-committee). He has been a visiting professor to several overseas academic Institutions.
The general manager of Netcare Milpark Hospital, Marc van Heerden, said that Professor Degiannis, who in his spare time enjoys classical music, was one of the most highly esteemed academic and trauma surgeons to have ever served the facility’s trauma centre.
“He greatly contributed to the development of the strong critical care system that exists at our hospital today. His presence at Netcare Milpark Hospital and indeed within the broader South African critical care sector, will be sorely missed. It was therefore with a heavy heart that we at Netcare Milpark Hospital bid him farewell. However, we wish Professor Degiannis everything of the best in his well-deserved retirement,” he concluded.
Source: MNA on behalf of Netcare