14 November 2014

Tutu pays tribute to Tygerberg Children's Hospital

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has thanked the doctors, nurses and staff of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital in Cape Town for the work they do.

Speaking at the annual interfaith thanksgiving service at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, Tutu said so many "beautiful things" happened at the hospital in the way sick children were looked after.
He contrasted this to the tragedies that have unfolded around the world and in Cape Town neighbourhoods recently.

Tragedies unfolded in Cape Town
“I think God is spending a lot of time crying. A few days ago, 48 children were killed in Nigeria. Over 300 girls have been abducted. On Sunday, a mother is walking with her son (in Cape Town) and he is attacked. They rip him to death in front of his mother. God is crying . . . But then he sees Tygerberg and he starts smiling through the tears.”
Tutu, who together with his wife Leah, is the patron of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, said he was impressed by the doctors working at the hospital.

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“I’ve always been surprised at how these doctors manage to do operations on these little, little bodies and very little, little limbs….But they do.”
Muslim and Jewish leaders called on families and loved ones to be brave and hopeful in the face of illness and to be thankful for others.
The Archbishop Emeritus lit a candle in honour of the staff and patients at the hospital, and was followed by everyone from patients and parents to nurses and administrative staff, who lit candles one after the other.

Image: Kids lighting candles at the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital thanksgiving service

The thanksgiving service is held at the hospital every year to pay tribute to the staff and young patients. 

Over 116 000 treated yearly

Over 16,000 babies and children are admitted to Tygerberg Children’s Hospital every year, while over 100,000 children are treated at the Outpatients division.
Manager for Medical Services at Tygerberg Hospital, Granville Marinus, said the staff “worked under tremendous pressure and had to juggle within a very tight budget” but were committed to serving the needs of the children.
Apart from doctors who performed a vital role, Rob Gie, Clinical Head of Pulmonology at the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, paid tribute to everyone involved in the hospital.

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“The unsung heroes of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital are the nurses, teachers, social workers, dieticians, household and administrative staff.  If it were not for these staff, Tygerberg Children’s Hospital would be nothing.”
Director of the Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Nulda Beyers, presented Tutu with a drawing inspired by a photograph of him with a young patient at the hospital’s thanksgiving service in 2005.

Patient now walking again

Eight years later, at the service today, the young patient, Dylan van Niekerk, now aged 18, met Tutu, together with the artist, Marie Stander, and photographer, Damien Schumann.

Image: The Archbishop Emeritus Tutu received the drawing of him with a young Dylan van Niekerk at the thanksgiving service in 2005

drawing 2
“I had haemophilia when I was 10 years old and met Archbishop Tutu. It was great to meet him then – and great to meet him now,” said van Niekerk.
Tygerberg Children’s Hospital is a world leader in the treatment and research of tuberculosis and is known for its pioneering work in the care of newborn babies, and projects in the fields of HIV and AIDS and cancer.

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The service was organised by the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital Trust, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital.

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