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South Africa performs world’s first successful middle ear transplant

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A team of South African doctors have pioneered world medicine, when they became the first ever to successfully transplant a middle ear.  Photos Credit: Steve Biko Academic Hospital

Head of the department of ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) at University of Pretoria medical school, Professor Mashudu Tshifularo and his medical team performed the breakthrough operation at the Steve Biko Academic hospital in Pretoria on Wednesday morning.

The first patient was a 35-year-old man who lost hearing, after his middle ear was completely damaged in a car accident.

Tshifularo has been doing a PhD study in the past ten years on conductive hearing loss and – over the past two years – the professor thought of using 3D technology to recreate all the bones in the middle ear that are broken.

The 3D technology allows for the scanning and recreating of bones.

“This was one of our patients we have been waiting for, for this reconstruction for almost three years now because they are not affordable.”

The professor says this surgery has pioneered a new approach to treating a middle ear problem and rehabilitating sound.

With this 3D technology, Tshifulara says the operation needs to be affordable for patients who are using public hospitals.

“It also means that we have done something new in the world and people will remember us for that.

“Because we are doing it in the country and we are going to manufacture here, it has to be

affordable for our people in state hospitals.

“It will be very accessible because as long as we can train the young doctors to be able to do this operation, then it will be accessible for them as well,” Tshifularo said.

Tshifularo expressed how blessed he is to be the first in the world and Africa to perform the transplant, making reference to Chris Barnard who performed the world’s first heart transplant in Cape Town in 1967.

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