PRESS RELEASE: Boikanyo Bug launched to raise funds for much-needed heart surgeries at NMCH

Since November 2018, the Boikanyo Foundation has partnered with Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) to help deliver critical surgeries to children with congenital and acquired heart defects, admitted at the hospital. So far, over 30 open heart surgeries have been funded as part of this initiative, greatly impacting the lives of children in need of surgeries as well as their families. However, more can be done.

This Mandela Month, NMCH calls on the public to follow a cause close to the heart. 

It is estimated that 1 in every 100 children worldwide are born with a congenital heart condition. Many of these children will die if they do not receive necessary treatment. 

The Boikanyo Bug, a 1970s-model VW Beetle, is set to travel across the continent, as part of an initiative by the Boikanyo Foundation to save the lives of some of these children in our region. 

CEO of NMCH, Dr Mandisa Maholwana says that partners such as the Boikanyo Foundation play an important role in ensuring that more children can receive the care they need at the hospital. “As a public benefit organisation, NMCH continuously fundraises to ensure that we add more value to the funding the hospital receives from government by forming partnerships and raising additional funds to support state patients. This ensures that we are able to reach more children with complex illnesses who otherwise would not have access to this critical specialist care.”

The Boikanyo Foundation was established in 2006 by the Round Table Golden East 181 to support heart surgeries for children in the region. As one of the paediatric centres in the country offering comprehensive paediatric cardiology and cardiothoracic services, a partnership between NMCH and the Boikanyo Foundation created an ideal opportunity for collaboration.

Chairman of the Round Table Golden East 181, Ian Vogt, says, “In 2006 Round Table Golden East 181 was approached to assist with a child requiring heart surgery. Thereafter we realised that there was a greater need to be served.  It was at this time that the Boikanyo Foundation was started and named after the first patient. NMCH and the Boikanyo Foundation have the potential to save more lives, but this is a task that requires the support of the general public to ensure that this good work continues.”

The Boikanyo Bug is set to travel over 14 500 km from Cape Town to Romania to raise funds to cover 125 surgeries which would equate to approximately R5 million for the initiative and was unveiled at a ceremony held on the hospital’s premises, in Parktown, Johannesburg today. 

The concept of the Bug was born when one of the members of the Round Table Golden East 181 donated a 1972 VW Beetle to assist with fundraising for the foundation. The Bug will commence its journey on International Mandela Day, 18 July to arrive in Romania at the Round Table International World Meeting in August 2019.

Project Convener, Gareth Coats, says this is an opportunity for the public as well as corporates to make a real impact, “Every year countless young lives are lost and families devastated by the impact of heart defects in children. By supporting the Boikanyo Bug, NMCH and the Foundation, the public are contributing with the knowledge that their support is going directly to saving children’s lives first and foremost.”

Dr Maholwana, says of the initiative, “Fundraising is an important part of our history as a hospital. We are honoured when partners and members of the public put their creativity forward in the spirit of supporting patients at our hospital. This is an incredible demonstration of Mandela’s vision for this facility and is more poignant as we celebrate his life and legacy this month.”