Pictured at the opening of the new Netcare Olivedale Hospital haematology unit were (from left): clinical haematologist and specialist physician, Dr Lucille S Singh; clinical haematologist and haematopathologist, Dr Karen Gunther; hospital general manager, Linda Bhagaloo; and clinical haematologist and specialist physician, Dr Philippa Ashmore

The first dedicated private haematology
unit in greater Johannesburg for the diagnosis and treatment of the full range
of acute and chronic blood cancers and other blood conditions in adults, has
been opened at Netcare Olivedale Hospital in Randburg.

“The development of this unit fulfils the
critical need for a dedicated, purpose-developed facility such as this within
the area,” observes Jacques du Plessis, managing director of the Netcare
hospital division.

 “This is in line with international trends
in haematology medicine which recognises that many patients with blood
disorders greatly benefit from individualised management and care by a
multi-disciplinary team at a properly equipped unit,” adds Du Plessis.

Haematologist, Dr Karen Gunther who heads
the unit, agrees and says that she and her two haematologist partners, Dr
Lucille Singh and Dr Philippa Ashmore, are all “tremendously excited” to be
introducing the new service and be involved in the development of the new

 “Many blood diseases, some of which would
have been terminal 20 years ago, can today be cured or successfully managed
with the new innovative therapies available. Centres around the world are able
to achieve more accurate diagnoses and optimise treatment of haematological
disorders, by using a range of treatment modalities including new drugs, stem
cell transplantation, targeted treatments, immunotherapy and other treatment
options,” adds Dr Gunther.

“There are currently dedicated Netcare
haematology units at Netcare uMhlanga Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, UCT Private
Academic and Netcare Kuils River hospitals in the Western Cape, Netcare
Pretoria East, and a bone marrow unit at Netcare Garden City Hospital in
Johannesburg, but there has been a great need for a new highly specialised
facility to serve patients in our area.”

 Dr Gunther points out that haematological
conditions are often multifaceted and complex, and require a specialised team
approach within an appropriately equipped centre in order to achieve the best
possible outcomes for patients. The haematology unit at Netcare Olivedale
Hospital makes available all the necessary technology, skills and support
services to enable treatment which meets the specific needs of each individual

The new unit will offer, for example,
cutting edge haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, which is used in the
treatment of various cancers including leukaemia, multiple myeloma, some
lymphomas, blood and bone marrow disorders and diseases of the immune system.
Stem cell harvesting is being done in collaboration with the South African
National Blood Service (SANBS).

“In addition to malignant conditions
affecting the blood, the team at the facility will also diagnose and treat all
blood clotting/thrombotic disorders, which can pose a great risk to health, as
well as bleeding disorders and diseases associated with low blood counts such
as anaemia.

“The unit will include state-of-the-art
isolation rooms, which are especially designed to protect patients undergoing
bone marrow transplantation, who require the most stringent levels of infection
control,” says Dr Gunther.