29 May 2005
Hamilton Naki was a gardener who later became a laboratory assistant without any formal training. He first worked for Robert Goetz, who asked him to assist him in the laboratory instead of gardening. Having started with just assisting with the animals and cleaning cages, Naki later began anesthetizing the animals and assisting with surgeries. When Goetz left, Naki began working with Chris Barnard, the doctor who would perform the first heart transplant in South Africa. Those who have worked with Naki described him as a very talented and skilled for someone who didn’t have any formal training. He would often perform amazing surgery work on animals quite effortlessly. After his death, it was claimed that he had assisted Dr Chris Barnard on his first successful heart transplant. The claim was later refuted and subsequently retracted. Naki died on 29 May 2005.