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Businesswoman opens first clinic for treatment of rare blood disorders

The dream of mining businesswoman magnate, Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, to build a clinic for people suffering from a rare disease which wipes out a person’s immune system leaving the body unable to fight infections, has been realised at the handover ceremony of a R75-million Soweto clinic in honour of her late daughter.

Mashile-Nkosi, chairperson of Kalagadi Manganese, has named the clinic Zakithi Nkosi Clinical Haematology Centre of Excellence, which is the only one of its kind in South Africa to predominantly focus on the treatment of different forms of blood disorders, in memory of her daughter, Zakithi “Zaza” Nkosi, who died in 2016 at the age of 19 from haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).

She said the clinic – with 34 beds, designated family rooms, secluded rooms for the administration of chemotherapy, nurses and doctors’ rooms,  at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital – has been deliberately built to assist struggling communities in and around Soweto, Gauteng and South Arica who cannot afford to pay for specialised care.

Speaking the handover event, Mashile-Nkosi said Mashile-Nkosi said the decision by the Stanley and Daphne Nkosi Foundation to partner with the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Academic Hospital to construct this Centre is part of her attempt to answer some of the challenges facing our health system.

“Simply put, life does not make meaning without a serious attempt to solve societal and human problems, many of which are complex and do not easily lend themselves to easy solutions and answers,” she said.

“My late husband, Stanley, and I have always remained touched and concerned by the struggles of communities around us. That is why through the Stanley and Daphne Nkosi Foundation, I embarked on a mission to build this clinic for patients with HLH and other clinical haematology disorders.  As a parent, I wouldn’t want to see another parent experiencing such untold pain,” she said.

At the clinic, a training centre will double as a research centre to be utilised by medical undergraduate and post-graduate students in clinical hematology.

A two-year scholarship programme will be awarded to a post-graduate student to study hematology and oncology at the University of Witwatersrand’s Medical School.

“I am grateful for the financial support I received from many companies such as Exxarro, Traxys Africa, Murray and Roberts, Tubular,  staff, and management at Baragwanath,  the Gauteng provincial government, artists, including Nelson Makamo, and individuals who supported me to help make this project a success,” she said.

HLH is a life-threatening disease and an uncommon haematologic disorder found more often in children than adults. It is a condition where the immune system begins to damage a patient’s own tissues.

Mashile-Nkosi said many people here and across the world die every year from this torturous disease without being aware they have it.

She and her supporters have adopted the “Hope Lives Here” slogan to encourage communities to take charge and identify and support anyone suffering from any blood-related disorder.

“I am confident that this clinic will help spread awareness about the diseases. I challenge other corporates to help change people’s lives,” she said when opening the clinic.

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