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A Giant falls! Renowned South African cardiologist Bongani Mayosi dies at 51

South African cardiologist Late Prof. Bongani Mawethu Mayosi breathed his last in the wee-hours of Friday July 27 (Photo: AGENCIES)

CAPE TOWN – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended his “heartfelt condolences” on the tragic passing of acclaimed South African cardiologist Professor Bongani Mawethu Mayosi, who was Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

A Police report confirmed that Professor Mayosi died of a heart attack on Friday, 27 July 2018.

He was renowned for heading the research group that discovered the heart attack gene (CDH2) which he described, in 2017, as “probably the biggest breakthrough in South African cardiology since Dr Chris Barnard’s first heart transplant”. It made news around the world and was featured on Carte Blanche last year in June.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended his “heartfelt condolences” on the tragic passing of the Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Prof. Bongani Mawethu Mayos (Photo: AGENCIES)

A family statement today said: “It is with great sadness that we‚ the Mayosi family‚ announce the passing of our husband‚ son‚ father‚ brother and uncle‚ Bongani Mayosi.

“Bongani died on the morning of 27 July 2018.”

The family revealed that “in the last two years he has battled with depression and on that day took the desperate decision to end his life.”

President Ramaphosa said: “His death is indeed an enormous loss not only to his family but to the country as a whole. On behalf of government and South Africans as a whole, we convey our most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and relatives, and the health science fraternity. May his soul rest in peace.”

Professor Mayosi had been an advisor to the South African Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi.

UCT’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, announced the news with “profound sadness” in a letter to students and colleagues, posted on the university’s website.

He said: “The university is in touch with Professor Mayosi’s family, who is appreciative of all messages of support and condolences, but requests that their privacy be respected during this difficult time. The family will liaise with the university for further communication at the appropriate time.”

Professor Mayosi’s list of achievements was endless. He was an A-rated National Research Foundation researcher, and had also been honoured with the Order of Mapungubwe in Silver for his achievements in the international arena which have served South Africa’s interests.

Associates, colleagues and the international community took to social media to pay tribute to the fallen South African cardiologist subsequent to the announcement of his passing Friday July 27.

He had become Dean at UCT two years ago in September 2016, after being Head of the Department of Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital and UCT since 2006.

Professor Mayosi’s work focused mainly on heart disease. He had attracted more than R100-million in research grants in the past eight years, and published more than 250 papers. He had also taken part in groundbreaking work researching the management of TB pericarditis, prevention of rheumatic heart disease, as well as the genetics of heart disease.

The professor – and father of two daughters – had reportedly been inspired to help others by his father who was also a doctor.

On the night of Saturday July 28, his brother-in-law Sipho Simelane said: “You were the best at what you did and worked hard to get the many achievements and accolades you collected. I celebrate your life Sbali sami today and I saw how happy you were in April when your daughter Vuyi got married.”

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