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SA’s top cardiologist Professor Bongani Mayosi has passed

Staff Reporter

The University of Cape Town (UCT) ‘s Dean of Health Sciences Professor Bongani Mayosi has passed.

It’s understood the 51-year-old cardiology professor passed away in Cape Town on Friday. It is reported that Mayosi took his own life.

The statement released read: “In the last two years he has battled with depression and on that day took the desperate decision to end his life.”

The statement‚ the authenticity of which was confirmed by family spokesperson, Advocate Ncumisa Mayosi‚ added: “We are still struggling to come to terms with this devastating loss. Kindly respect our wishes as the family that beyond this statement‚ we will not discuss or entertain any further questions on this matter.

“We ask that you understand our need for privacy during this difficult time. We welcome you to join us for daily prayers at the family home in Pinelands between 18:30 and 19:30.

Mayosi was the country’s top cardiologist and became a dean at UCT two years ago.

He discovered the genetic mutation that causes heart failure.

Since 2011‚ Mayosi had been advising Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on policy and strategy for health research.

Mayosi spent years working tirelessly to improve the health of people in developing countries. In 2017 he was elected to the US National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honours in the fields of health and medicine, awarded to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

The same year, he made international headlines for identifying a new gene that is a major cause of sudden death by heart failure among young people and athletes.

Professor Mayosi’s involvement in this research included spending 20 years monitoring a South African family that was affected by this disorder. This is a testimony to his tenacious pursuit of pioneering research that can help save lives.

Professor Mayosi took up the position of Dean in September 2016. His A-rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) counted him among the ranks of leading international researchers in the view of the NRF.

His numerous honours include: election to the Fellowship of the World Academy of Arts and Science (2013); South African Medical Association/Bonitas Medical Fund Merit Award for Health Research (2013); National Science and Technology Foundation – BHP Billiton Award (2012); National Research Foundation Award for Transforming the Science Cohort in South Africa (2011); and the Order of Mapungubwe, Silver (2009).

In pursuit of his research he developed valuable collaborations with academics in other countries (and especially across Africa) in researching the management of TB pericarditis, prevention of rheumatic heart disease, and genetics of heart disease. He also held numerous editorial responsibilities over his distinguished career and published more than 250 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

In 2009, he was awarded the country’s highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe.

He earned two medical degrees with distinction at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and worked as an intern at Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth before joining UCT in 1992. He was admitted to the Fellowship of the College of Physicians of South Africa in 1995 and earned a doctoral degree at the University of Oxford in the UK in 2003. He was appointed Head of the Department of Medicine at UCT in 2006.

Professor Mayosi was born on 28 January 1967 in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. Mayosi was inspired by his father‚ also a doctor‚ to help others. He studied at what is now the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal‚ and it was there that he met his dermatologist wife‚ Nonhlanhla Khumalo.

He leaves her and their two daughters.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said, “Mayosi’s passing has shocked us as a campus community. I know many colleagues and students will feel the effects of this loss over the time ahead.”

Phakeng added that this is a very sad time for the UCT community.

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