PROFESSOR Mashudu Tshifularo performs a first-of-its-kind transplant surgery on a patient at Steve Biko Academic Hospital yesterday. Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has paid tribute to Professor Mashudu Tshifularo and his team at the University of Pretoria for a pioneering surgical procedure which uses 3D-printed middle ear bones for conductive hearing loss rehabilitation.

Tshifularo on Wednesday led the team in successfully performing a nearly two-hour transplant surgery on their first patient, Thabo Moshiliwa, aged 40, who damaged his middle ear bone in a car accident.

The minister urged donors and development partners, especially the business community, to support the innovation which he described as “South Africa’s scientific breakthrough”.

“The Department of Health will do everything in our power to assist and mobilise resources to make sure Professor Tshifularo gets all the help he needs,” Motsoaledi said.

The ground-breaking surgery was done at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.

The Department of Health said the procedure, which can also be performed on newborns, may be the answer to conductive hearing loss, a middle ear problem caused by congenital birth defects, infection, trauma or metabolic diseases.

It uses 3D-printing technology to effectively replace the hammer, anvil, and stirrup (ossicles) - the smallest bones in the body - that make up the middle ear.

Tshifularo, who is head of the department of otorhinolaryngology at UP, said the procedure posed less risk than others “by replacing only the ossicles that aren’t functioning properly”. African News Agency (ANA)