Limb reconstruction orthopeadist’s passion

Prof Nando Ferreira.

Prof Nando Ferreira’s passion for limb reconstruction finds expression in all facets of his work.

Ferreira (40) has been working in the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) since last year. As Head of the newly established Clinical Unit: Tumour, Sepsis and Reconstruction, he is planning a number of exciting projects, such as the year long training programme that he has already established for qualified orthopaedists who wish to gain more experience in limb reconstruction.  

His main research interest is limb reconstruction, and more specifically the treatment of muscoskeletal infections, deformity correction and post-traumatic limb reconstruction, among others where nonunion of fractures and bone loss have occurred.

“It is a relatively new field in orthopaedics and new techniques are established all the time,” he says. “Furthermore, South Africa has very specific challenges regarding pathology and infrastructure, which often means that problems are tackled differently than in First World countries. This leads to unique approaches to complex problems which First World countries may not often encounter.”

Ferreira is currently President of the South African Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction Society, of which he was a founding member in 2013. He was promoted to associate professor in August this year and is a popular speaker in South Africa and abroad.

He was born and bred in KwaZulu-Natal and speaks Afrikaans, English and Zulu. At school – first in Pietermaritzburg and later in Durban – he not only excelled academically, but was also awarded colours in swimming, rugby and athletics.

After matric he obtained a BSc degree at SU, majoring in human physiology and genetics, and then studied medicine, also at SU. According to him it was an easy choice to return to  KwaZulu-Natal for his internship and community service year.

Orthopaedics interested him from the outset and he commenced his formal orthopaedics training in 2006 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

When limb reconstruction crossed his training path, he immediately realised this was what he wanted to do. After having completed all available courses in this field in South Africa, he went to Russia in 2011 for further training in specific techniques. Afterwards he was appointed to a consultant position at the UKZN where he – in his own words – had the privilege to learn a lot about muscoskeletal infection treatment under the competent leadership of Dr Len Marais, Head of the Department of Orthopaedics.

His love of research led to several publications on limb reconstruction, as well as the development of specific approaches to problems that crossed their path. For instance, Ferreira and Marais were the first surgeons who described bone transport through an induced membrane.

In 2015 he was awarded his doctorate with a dissertation titled “The Outcome of Tibial Non-Union Treatment Using a Revised Definition, Classification System and Management Strategy”. In March the following year he left Grey Hospitaal in Pietermaritzburg, where he worked as a medical specialist, and joined SU.  

Ferreira is married to Yvette, a radiographer, and they have three children.

His main interest outside work is “anything with two wheels”. He is the proud owner of a 2010 Harley Davidson and a 1984 Vespa, and is restoring a 1942 Harley Davidson WLC from the Second World War. Before he exchanged Pietermaritzburg for the Western Cape, he became interested in mountain bike riding and regards himself as fortunate to have moved to a place with so many excellent mountain bike routes.

Jackie Pienaar-Brink