The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa
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Johannes Albertus (Bert) Myburgh

Posted: 2010-04-18 21:50

Johannes Albertus (Bert) Myburgh


1928 -2010


The President, Senate, members and staff of The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa note with great sadness the passing of their illustrious Past President, Professor Bert Myburgh, on the 7th April 2010. He died peacefully after a short stay in hospital resulting from a fall.


Professor J. A. Myburgh served The College of Medicine of South Africa, as it was then named, from 1974 to 1992, both as member of its Examinations and Credentials Committee and as an elected member of its then governing body, the Council. He led the College as its President during 1986 to 1989, during which time he played a major role in strengthening its ties with other similar bodies around the world.


After a brilliant undergraduate career, he graduated MB ChB from the University of Cape Town in 1950, receiving First Class Honours, achieving Distinctions in all subjects, and the award of the University Gold Medal as the most distinguished candidate. He was an outstanding athlete, receiving a Full Blue from UCT, Western Province Colours and captaining the Combined South African Universities side. He was awarded his Springbok Colours for athletics in 1950. In addition, he played rugby for the UCT first team.


The award of the Rhodes Scholarship in 1952 took him to New College, Oxford from 1953 to 1956, and a surgical training post at the United Oxford Hospitals and Oxford University. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1955, and returned to South Africa to complete his surgical training at Wits between 1956 and 1959.


He became a registered Specialist Surgeon in 1959, and remained at the University of Witwatersrand thereafter, being appointed Professor of Surgery, ad hominem, in 1967 and Head of the Department of Surgery in 1977 – a post he retained until his retirement in 1994.


Professor Myburgh was an outstanding clinical surgeon, teacher and internationally recognised researcher for his work in transplantation, hepato-biliary, gastric and colonic surgery. International and local recognition included seven honorary Fellowships, an Honorary MD from the University of the Orange Free State, Doctor of Science in Medicine (Wits), Fellowship of the Royal Society of South Africa and the South African MRC Silver Medal for Research


In addition, he was a national leader in his fields, having, amongst other appointments, been President of the Surgical Research Society of Southern Africa, the Association of Surgeons of South Africa, and the Southern African Transplantation Society. 


He will be particularly missed by his surgical colleagues, who headed the other departments of surgery in South Africa, during his time. As a group, we had a special relationship and friendship. For example, at exam time we stayed in each others homes as the external examiners, often displacing a child from their room for the week – thus getting to know the families of our colleagues very well. This special friend, great companion and amazing intellect will be missed by many.


The Colleges of Medicine convey our special condolences to his wife, Marie-Louise and his children, John, Jacqui and Sandy and their families.


John Terblanche


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