Description: Cardiothoracic Surgery Keywords: Cardiothoracic Surgery, Home Page

Who is the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery?

The University of the Free State (UFS) Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery is a highly intensive diagnostic and therapeutic speciality that deals with congenital and acquired conditions of the heart and chest, in patients of all ages, for whom it endeavours to favourably modify the natural course of the disease whilst retaining or improving quality of life. 

History of the Department

The University of the Free State (UFS) Department of Cardiac Surgery, is an established institution, founded in 1973. The department was initially situated in the National Hospital, but rendering services at Pelonomi Hospital. In 1995 the Unit moved to its present location at Universitas Hospital. The founding program director of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Professor Hannes Meyer, was appointed at the Medical School in October 1970, three years before the department became independent.

Under Professor Meyer, the unit became a leading institution in South Africa in the fields of coronary artery revascularisation and myocardial protection. He established an active research division, headed by Professor Leon Neethling, directed at anti-mineralization techniques in biological tissue, myocardial protection and the development and establishment of a homograft bank. The homograft bank was the biggest of its kind in South Africa in the late 1990’s.

The development of the paediatric cardiac surgery program can be largely contributed to Professor Japie Hough, a Meyer trainee. He also expanded homograft use and initiated a mitral valve repair program.

The Present

Professor Francis Smit  - another Meyer trainee - , was appointed as head of the department in 2004.The department now performs about 500 adult cardiac procedures and about 180 paediatric cardiac procedures every year. About two hundred thoracic procedures are performed annually. 

The department prides itself on its training programs in:
  • cardiothoracic surgery
  • perfusion technology
  • intensive care directed at registrars, technologists and nurses

It is actively involved in Health Economics ensuring sustainability of our service delivery programs.


An active research division conducts projects in the fields of:
  • biological tissue development
  • homograft research
  • coronary artery interventions
  • perfusion related topics
  • end stage heart disease

This division has a dedicated laboratory as well as access and active projects in our large animal research facility.


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T: +27 51 401 3739
F: +27 86 579 5154


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