January 2012 Newsletter

Dear laparoscopic colleagues

Your EXCO and I would like to wish you and your families a safe, sensible and fruitful year. We live in challenging times both personally and professionally.

Last year was a highlight for the society with our first, most successful, stand-alone meeting at Champagne Sports Resort. Dick Brombacher, your secretary, has written the meeting report, and this can be found on the website, along with photographs of the meeting. Dick makes the point that the meeting's success was primarily due to the fantastic attendance by the membership, and their engagement with the informal spirit of the meeting. We have had remarkably warm and sincere letters of congratulations from all 13 internationals, several of whom were moved to describe it as the most enjoyable and stimulating meeting they had ever attended. High praise indeed from such well travelled experts.

EXCO took a decision 18 months ago that the website would become the central forum of the society and this has been an enormous project, far greater than we envisaged. But the website is now consistently functional, though still work in progress, and we are proud of it. Gremlins persist, the most troublesome of which revolves around member access to the protected areas and payment of subscriptions.

We have decided to abandon the Monsterpay credit card scheme. Monsterpay raised a number of new barriers for Akooka, our web provider, and we became frustrated with them. Instead, members will be sent personal membership fee invoices and asked to EFT their payment to the SASES bank account. Sonja Love, our administrative secretary, will co-ordinate this and liase with members over any problems. Please provide your name or membership number as a reference, as your identity is not always clear from your bank account details.

Attached is an update on the website from Martin Brand, who does a fantastic job with this challenging protfolio. You are free to contact him or me with any ideas or requests to improve the site.

Our meeting this year is in Durban, where SAGES will be celebrating their 50th anniversary - a proud milestone. Many of us are members of both societies, making this a special meeting. Our two LOC members responsible for the meeting are Dick Brombacher (Pietermaritzburg) and Masee Naidoo (Durban).

We have secured Professor Pradeep Chowbey as one of our two guests, and his career details, which are remarkable, are listed on the website. We wish to grow our subcontinent surgical links and this giant of Indian surgery will be paying his first visit to this country. Please look at his link: www.chowbey.com/profile.html.

He is not only the Hon Surgeon to the President of India, but also to the Dalai Lama (so we are hoping there wont be any visa problems!). As you know, we have recently established our Covidien and Karl Storz travelling fellowships to Amsterdam and Germany, and it is our intention is to introduce a third travelling fellowship in 2013, this time to India. Professor Chowbey is likely to play a significant part in this project.

This is an election year, and several old hands on the committee will be retiring in Durban. We will need new exco members, and currently the geographical need is for more highveld representatives. After the excitement of the CSR AGM, with its record attendance, we are banking on the continued enthusiasm of members for the well-being and administration of the society. Please think about standing and preferably discuss this with an exco member, or communicate with the President elect who is Danie Folscher (George).

Finally, and with great sadness, we note the passing of Haroon Docrat, a long-standing SASES member who practised in Durban. He completed a term on the society's EXCO some years ago. Haroon was an undergraduate in Dublin, and it quite some doing to return to SA and establish his successful practice in Durban. I remember him describing life as an undergraduate, and it was pretty tough going. Like too many of us in this stressful, hostile SA healthcare environment, he probably worked too hard and selflessly. We send our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

May your year be free of surgical complications and filled with laparoscopic progress. Remember the most important advice for any laparoscopic surgeon - "Conversion is not a failure, rather it is a triumph of sound judgement."

With my, and EXCO's, best wishes



A message from Martin Brand, head of the Website Portfolio --


I’ve been asked to give you feed back on the SASES (your) website. This is a fairly difficult task as I believe the site speaks for itself. We’ve designed it, with much input from our IT hosts Akooka, to be informative and easy to use.   We are open to any suggestions, and complaints, relating to the site’s content. Just drop me an email via the SASES address. We are particularly keen on expanding our library area, not only with journal articles but videos as well. Contributions are welcome!

I would like to wish you a successful 2012,