‘Singing surgeon’ wins prestigious prize


Dr. Wilhelm Lichtenberg, the founder of Young Hearts Africa, received the Thoracic Surgery Foundation’s prestigious Every Heart Matters Award for his humanitarian work earlier this week.

Out of the 14 awards that were handed out during the awards event, Lichtenberg was the only native of Africa to win a prize.

Since the Young Hearts Africa Foundation opened its doors in 2021, around 30 children, in collaboration with the Red Cross Hospital in Cape Town, have already been able to undergo operations.

More than 4,000 out of the 13,000 children diagnosed with a congenital heart defect each year need an operation to save their lives. However, there are currently only 800 of these operations carried out a year by the state, given the lack of facilities, specialists and funding.

“Because public health care in South Africa is on its knees, however, we operate on less than a thousand children per year, in other words around 4,000 children die annually due to heart disease because they cannot receive operations,” Lichtenberg told RNews earlier. said.

“In the private sector such an operation costs around R250 000 and in state hospitals there is no capacity. With the money we collect for the foundation, we create greater capacity to be able to help more children.”

The Every Heart Matters award includes a grant of $23 000 (about R425 000) and was sponsored by the Edwards Life Sciences Foundation. Lichtenberg also recently toured California in the US to rub shoulders with other international award winners.

“My dream is to perform operations on a thousand children within five years. It sounds like a lot, but if you break it down, it’s not that much.”

The ‘Singing Surgeon’

When Lichtenberg is not standing at the operating table, he is behind a microphone.

His album Sacred Heart was recorded precisely to raise money for the foundation.

  • To be with dr. Wilhelm Lichtenberg to get in touch, or to get involved with the Young Hearts Africa foundation, or for more information about the foundation, visit the website.