Thank you Professor Johannes Swart and a Merry Christmas to you all

Thank you Professor Johannes Swart!

Thank you for training me, all of us and teaching us the discipline of ear nose and throat surgery. It was a privilege to train and learn from you. You did not only teach us the science of medicine but also the psychology of the sole.

Professor Johannes Swart
Standing next to my teacher, Professor Johannes Swart

You never degraded us, your juniors, always uplifting and encouraging. You always respected us, even willing to learn from us. When you started cochlear implantation (CI) in Pretoria at our hospital on the corner of Skinner (Nana Sita) and Sisulu street we were all amazed, proud and of what could now be done for deaf patients. You did it. How you made us proud!

Not many people know that Winston Churchill (who is lucky to share his birthday with me on 30 November) was actually held prisoner in our ENT hospital building, just to escape in the second Boer war. He swam the mighty Apies river to escape to England. For those that do not know the Apies river can be a strong flowing river in the rainy season. We all know what happened next and how world history was influenced by Winston Churchill.

Professor Swart, you were a great surgeon, acknowledged by Prof Harold Schucknecht and Prof Ugo Fisch, undoubtedly two of the best ear surgeons of the previous century. Your work on endolymphatic hydrops is acknowledged. I have not seen many who has had such a steady hand as you during surgery. Thank you for that example.

Most of all I will never forget your bedside manors. The way you talked to patients, respecting them. You always encouraged them. I did see you pray with them. You cannot comprehend what that meant, to them and to me.

Professor, I know you were always jealous about the fact that I drove a Toyota Camry 300, burgundy of all colours, but what you never knew is that I bought it for a very good second hand price. You deserved it more than I.

You often told us stories, this one I will not forget. An alcoholic father in Canada were used to make his rounds to the bar, through the snow every night as soon as his young boy went to sleep. One night, drinking in the bar he looked around only to see his little boy behind him. Not sleeping and at that time of night he asked him, son, what are you doing here? Upon that the boy said dad, I walked in the snow, only following your footsteps. Needless to say the dad broke out in tears, realizing the example he was setting with his drinking.

Please make use of this and acknowledge and thank all the mentors and teachers in your life, everyone of 2016 but also the past. Do it before they pass on and leave us for a better place!

A Merry Christmas to you Professor Swart, all my patients, colleagues,  friends, family and my children. Last but not least to my beautiful, inspiring wife Liezel.

Thank you.