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Hamilton Naki

The Order of Mapungubwe in

Hamilton Naki Awarded for:
Outstanding contribution to medical science.

Profile of Hamilton Naki

Hamilton Naki was working as a gardener at the University of Cape Town, where he had started at the age of 14, when Dr Robert Goetz asked him to assist in the new surgical laboratory where he learned to anaesthetize dogs for research purposes.

After Goetz left, Naki was serving as a surgical and anaesthetic research assistant at the university when a young cardiac surgeon, Christiaan Barnard, began to further his research into open-heart and cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. Despite his limited conventional education, Naki had a remarkable ability to grasp intricate anatomical structures and medical procedures.

Almost exactly 35 years ago, when Prof Barnard performed the first heart transplant in Cape Town, thus bringing South Africa, the University of Cape Town, and the J.S. Marais Laboratory, international attention, it was Naki, by then a principal surgical assistant at the laboratory, doing research into liver transplants, who served as his anaesthetist.

Naki currently lives in Langa in Cape Town and continues to touch hearts with his community work.