Chiyangwa undergoes major surgery in SA

Phillip Chiyangwa

HARARE – Controversial Harare businessman and Zanu PF MP Philip Chiyangwa underwent complex and major surgery, conducted by two of the world’s leading specialists, in Cape Town, South Africa, on Monday to treat a sight-threatening condition in his left eye which has been troubling him in the past four years.

According to State media, the surgery was conducted at Mediclinic Cape Town, which describes itself as a “multidisciplinary hospital (which) offers local and international patients a broad spectrum of specialist medical services, modern facilities, high-tech equipment and outstanding nursing care.”

Professor Darlene Lubbe, a world-leading ear, nose and throat specialist, and Dr Hamzah Mustak, an ophthalmologist, conducted the surgery.

A letter, written by Mustak, on August 8, ahead of the surgery, gave an insight into the specialist procedure.

“This letter serves to confirm that Chiyangwa is receiving specialist medical care in Cape Town for the management of his thyroid associated orbitopathy,” Mustak wrote.

“Chiyangwa had orbital decompression surgery to the right side for a sight-threatening comprehensive optic neuropathy.

“He has since been stable but now requires orbital decompression surgery to the left orbit. He has required chronic prednisone use to preserve the vision in his left eye whilst awaiting recovery from his previous surgery.

“Chiyangwa is scheduled for a medical endonasal and lateral transorbital decompression at Cape Town Mediclinic on the 26th of August (last Monday) 2019.

“The surgery is complex based on the previous surgeries he had and will require him to remain for post-observation for at least ten days after the surgery.

“I trust that you will find the above information in order and allow Chiyangwa the required leave to attend to his health and the required surgery as planned.”

The surgery was performed on Monday. The Harare businessman, who is the immediate past ZIFA president, flew back into the capital yesterday.

“Yes, I can confirm that I underwent a major and complex surgery under a team of world-renowned specialists to treat the thyroid associated eye condition, something I started feeling at about the time I first came into office as ZIFA boss,” he told The Herald. “I have absolute trust in the expertise of the medical team that treated me and I am now going through the post-surgery observation phase.”

Lubbe and Mustak were part of the team of specialists which, on February 2017, made a ground-breaking operation at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, which captured the attention of the world, by using eyes as a pathway to reaching the most intricate parts of the brain.

Although the University of Washington had pioneered what is known as Transorbital neuroendoscopic surgery (Tones), Lubbe and Mustak became the first to use Tones to operate on the opposite side of the brain.

They used the eye socket as a corridor to reach the temporal lobe at the base of the skull to repair a lesion — a procedure which would have been very risky to perform using the traditional methods because of associated complications and the post-operative trauma to the tissue.

Two years earlier, Lubbe also grabbed headlines around the world after being called upon by a veterinary surgeon who needed help to deal with a French Bulldog which was having breathing difficulties.

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