Red Cross Hospital Celebrates Six Decades of Paediatric Excellence | Western Cape Government

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Red Cross Hospital Celebrates Six Decades of Paediatric Excellence

1 July 2016

A big cake depicting the past six decades was cut in celebration of Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital’s 60th year of existence. The hospital opened its doors in 1956 thanks to an incredibly supportive and generous community. 

The hospital is a far cry from its humble beginnings 60 years ago. Throughout the decades, the hospital has expanded its facilities and services to meet the growing needs of an ever-changing healthcare system. 

It is a living memorial to South African soldiers who fought in World War II and donated two days of their pay towards what was to become the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

This tradition of community involvement in the hospital continues today through the fundraising of the Children’s Hospital Trust, with the latest ambitious project aimed at expanding and modernising the hospital’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). 

“The Children’s Hospital Trust is committed to ensuring that this centre of paediatric excellence continues to deliver world-class healthcare to children from all over South Africa and other African countries as well as trains healthcare professionals from across the continent so that they too can deliver excellence in their home countries. The 60th anniversary is just one of its incredible milestones, which the Trust is proud to be a part of,” says Louise Driver, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Trust.

Over the past 60 years the 272-bed Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital has built a reputation of excellence, providing services in all aspects of child health; and has become a cornerstone in paediatric healthcare on the African continent. 

The birthday cake for the occasion came courtesy of Charly’s Bakery and was presented to patients, their parents and staff members. 

“This special celebration is an opportunity for rejoicing and thanksgiving. Glancing back over the years we realise how grateful we must be for the valuable contributions of many individuals and groups who have given us support and assistance in every way possible. A special thank you also goes to the staff who have worked and continue to work here caring for all our patients, and striving to improve the quality of their lives,” says Dr Anita Parbhoo, Acting CEO of Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. 

“A 60th Anniversary is an incredible achievement and testament to the quality of care that the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital has offered not only to South African children but across the continent as well. I couldn’t be prouder of the healthcare workers who form the backbone of his establishment. Today, we celebrate your self-less work,” said the Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.

A look back at some major milestones in Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital’s history and firsts in South African Paediatric Healthcare:

  • 1959 - the first open heart surgery on a child
  • 1964 - the first hospital to separate conjoined twins
  • 1968 - the first renal transplant on a child
  • 1969 - the first children’s cancer service
  • 1971 - the first paediatric Poison Information Service
  • 1978 - the establishment of the first Child Accident Prevention Foundation (ChildSafe)
  • 1979 - the first paediatric neurosurgery department
  • 1981 - the first lumbosacral selective rhizotomy for spasticity
  • 1984 – the first dedicated paediatric trauma unit
  • 1990 - the first child heart transplant
  • 1991 - the first and only paediatric liver transplant program
  • 1997 - the first double transplant on a child (liver and kidney)
  • 2001 - the first autologous epithelial auto graft on a burn patient 
  • 2002 - the first living related liver transplant
  • 2002 - the first ‘bench surgery’ for bilateral kidney tumours in a child
  • 2011 - the first and only Surgical Skills Training Centre
  • 2011 - the first paediatric Burns Unit 
  • 2013 – first paediatric clinical research centre in a children’s hospital in South Africa (Centre for Childhood Infectious Diseases) 

Additional Information:

  • In 1945, it was suggested that a children's hospital be built as a memorial to those who had contributed by sacrifice, suffering and service in World War II. As it was felt that children had been the innocent victims of the war, the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital was devoted to the relief of the suffering of children.
  • The building of the Hospital commenced in 1953 under the guidance of the South African Red Cross Society at a cost of R1,6million. The public donated an amount of R476 000 and the rest was provided by the Cape Provincial Administration, now called the Western Cape Government.  
  • In 1956, the ownership of the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital was handed over to the Western Cape Government Health, which covers the Hospital’s operational costs. 
  • Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital was officially opened in June 1956.
Media Enquiries: 

Angelique Jordaan
Principal Communications Officer: Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
Tel: 021 658 5448