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Dear Mr Vonk and management, trustees of the George Hospital Trust, members of the George Hospital Board, Doctors, Nurses, Hospital staff and most importantly our patients and all the supporters of the hospital:

Christmas 2021 is upon us, and shortly thereafter we await a new year - 2022 AD. Christmas refers to Jesus Christ, the son of God who was born just more than 2000 years ago. The prophet Isaiah penned his prophetic book between 701 BC and 681 BC and spoke about the sign of Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 states: ”Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and give birth to a son and call him Immanuel.” Jesus was the final fulfilment of this prophesy, as related in Matthew 1:20-23 when the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said that Mary will conceive from the Holy Spirit and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins: verse 23….” and they will call him Immanuel-which means,” God with us.”

The Gospel according to the apostle John clarifies the meaning and purpose of Jesus’s birth, life, death and resurrection for every man, woman and child on earth, and even all creation, in John 3:16” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” It is important to note that it is not the size of our faith, either big or small that matters, but rather in WHOM we believe!

May this certain knowledge that God is with us in and through his Son, enable you to experience “the peace of God that transcends all understanding may (it) guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”( Philippians 4: verse7) In this time with Omicron, and whatever the new year may bring let us remember: ”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:4-6)   

I close with what De Sales once said to a friend: What a blessed thing active prayer is. I mean by active prayer, doing everything in God’s presence and for His service. “ May this be true of all of us as we celebrate a joyful Christmas and a blessed new year!


Rev. Michiel Burger(Chairman)

George Hospital Trust.

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Thompson, who celebrated his 92nd birthday on 23 August, told George Herald he received the news of his positive Covid test in the midst of moving house from Kingswood Golf Estate to a new home in the Groenkloof Retirement Village.

Blyth Thompson (92), a member of the George Hospital Board and the fundraiser for the proposed new Children's Ward project, has survived Covid-19 - while moving house and shortly after undergoing an operation on his leg.

Thompson, who celebrated his 92nd birthday on 23 August, told George Herald he received the news of his positive Covid test in the midst of moving house from Kingswood Golf Estate to a new home in the Groenkloof Retirement Village. 

He and his wife, Wendy, had to undergo testing in terms of Groenkloof's Covid protocol.

Thompson was enjoying a round of golf on the Glenwood short golf course with Rev Michiel Burger, chairman of the hospital board, when someone came rushing to them on a golf cart with a message to phone home immediately.

"You can imagine what impact that made on me. Michiel was very concerned and hopped on the cart to go back to the club- house. When I arrived there, he had already phoned Wendy who gave him the news that I had tested positive."

Against the doctor's advice, Wendy refused to leave her husband on his own for the duration of the isolation period. They went into quarantine together in their new home. "We had transferred half of our stuff here and the other half was still at Kingswood."

Thompson said he developed a serious cough. "Sometimes I would sneeze. The doctor told me according to world statistics, 70% of people over 90 who contracted the virus had died. So I am among the 30% to survive."

Burger said the board was relieved that Thompson is able to carry on with his fund-raising efforts. "We are so thankful that the Lord healed Blyth at 92 - his dream of raising the funds for the George Hospital Children's Ward is still possible by God's grace. We also wish him and Wendy many blessed years in their new, smaller home in Groenkloof."

'Prayers answered'
Thompson said what is significant to him and Wendy of this time, was the amazing way in which their prayers were answered. He underwent an operation on the shin to have a cancerous lesion removed. 

"When Wendy drove me to the theatre there had been no offers for the house at Kingswood and we had no place to go, even if it was sold. While I was in the operating theatre, Wendy received an acceptable offer, and Dr Corneels Verster skillfully removed the lesion. 

When I came to from the anaesthetic, I heard one nurse say to the other, 'Have you ever in your life seen such a skillful operation?'. This of course gave me a lot of hope for my recovery. Then Michiel found us our new home and I was found to have Covid-19. Imagine if we could not sell the house, had no place to go and I had died of cancer or the virus."

Special guest at FAK event
Thompson has been invited to be a guest speaker in Grahamstown later this month at a ceremony at the Bible Monument that is being hosted by the Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge (FAK). The event is a celebration of the 200-year existence of the South African Bible Society.

Thompson's great-great-grandfather, William Roland Thompson, in 1837 made a speech during the handover of a Bible by the British Settlers to a Voortrekker, Jacobus Johannes ('Koos Bybel') Uys. This was a farewell token to his party that was trekking on to new frontiers at the time.

A descendant of the Uys family will also take part in the ceremony to be held on 29 November.

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World Prematurity Day: Prem Day Walkathon
The rainy weather did not dampen the spirits or stop the purple army, including George Hospital staff members as well as a few of the “prem” mothers from participating in a Prem Day Walkathon on World Prematurity Day, 17 November 2020. The idea behind the walkathon, 1700 steps taken on the hospital premises is to raise awareness about premature births and how it can be prevented, but also to walk in the shoes of all the little brave fighters around the world that are born fighting for survival. Along the way, participants were tested with questions related to premature births and were rewarded with small treats for every correct answer. The day ended with a lucky draw.  
NICU-fighter (4) wants to become a paramedic.
Approximately, one in ten babies around the world spent their first few days, many times, even weeks turning into months fighting for survival in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as they are born prematurely. On World Prematurity Day, 17 November 2020, we celebrate the lives of these fighting-fit spirits, but more importantly, to raise awareness on how to prevent premature births.
“NICU-fighter”, is the word that comes to mind when Tara Balie, the mother of Quinn (4), thinks back to his 67-days spent in the George Hospital’s NICU. Quinn was born at 27 weeks and five days with a birth weight of 860g. Now all grown-up, he has an amazing fascination with ambulances and at his tender age, already knows that he wants to become a paramedic. When asked where his love for ambulances comes from, this quiet little man almost spurted out, “I want to help people.”
Thinking back to her experience in the NICU as a young mother, Tara recalls her being there by his side the entire time, helped her to get through that difficult time. “It is only in hindsight that I realised how anxious and worried I was. I think being able to spend every day with Quinn in the NICU, holding him and being skin-to-skin was a lifesaver for me,” said Tara.
She added, the fact that she had adequate emotional support provided a source of comfort to her during all the difficult and terrifying moments. “I benefitted from having people around me to hold my hand, give me a hug or offer kind and supportive words when I needed it,” said Tara.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Talking to a nurse that was actively involved in the nursing of Quinn, Senior Nurse Wendy Uithaler said that it was a privilege to take care of little Quinn as it is with every premature baby that they nurse in Ward B3 Neonatal. “It is a challenge as you never know what the final outcome will be, but to see this child running around, climbing, talking and doing everything else is really amazing and it makes it all worth it - all the long hours that we spend nursing these little babies in the warm ICU environment,” said Uithaler.
Mother-to-mother, Tara’s message to new “prem” mothers is to keep the faith throughout their journey and to remember that it is okay to not always be okay but to keep going.

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