Dr Mosadi Mahoko, a registrar in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is celebrating a double achievement during lockdown: not only is she the first female black South African plastic surgeon to qualify from Stellenbosch University and in the Western Cape, she recently won the Jack Penn Medal for the best result in South Africa for the 2019 final plastic surgery examinations. The only problem is she can't receive her medal in person.
Mahoko received a letter from the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) on 8 April, informing her of her medal for an excellent achievement in the FC Plast Surg (SA) Final Examination of the College of Plastic Surgeons.
The award is particularly meaningful as it has only been awarded twice since its inception in 1995. The inaugural winner, Dr Kotze Engelbrecht, was also a Stellenbosch University graduate.
In an interview, Mahoko said the award was “a complete unexpected surprise. I fell to my knees when I got the e-mail."
In his letter, the honorary registrar at the CMSA, Professor Victor Mngomezulu said it is customary for medals to be presented at an admission ceremony of the CMSA but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 CMSA admission ceremonies were cancelled.
“I'm disappointed not to collect the medal and certificate. It would have been great to walk on stage and receive this great accolade," Mahoko said.
Ascribing her success to “hard work and determination", she said: “If you hunker down, study the work and are passionate about the work you do, you'll be successful." She named, as her role model, her mother, the late Professor Sophie Mahoko, former Dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Venda.
“I learnt so much from my mother, who died in 2014. She had humble beginnings and worked hard to become an impressive academic. She instilled in me that you must never let adversity get you down."
She added: “I've worked hard with the aim of being a good, sensible plastic surgeon to all my patients.
This medal has given me the validation to believe I deserve to be in this field."
The final exam comprised two parts – a written component in July and a practical all-day clinical exam on 18 October at Durban's at Nkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital.
“You're faced with about 18 clinical stations where you examine patients, go through clinical scenarios and come up with management plans for patients in plastic and reconstructive surgery," she shared.
Mahoko (37) was raised in Mafikeng, North West Province. She graduated from the University of Pretoria with her MBChB in 2006, after which she did a two-year internship at Groote Schuur Hospital, followed by a year of community service at the Manguzi Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.
In 2010, she worked as a medical officer in the trauma unit at Tygerberg Hospital before joining the General Surgery department as a registrar, until 2015 when she joined the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Division. She is now in her final year as a registrar. She hopes to do a fellowship in rhinoplasty next.
“I have a passion for reconstructive surgery and, particularly for cleft lip and palate surgery. I would like to work on nasal reconstruction in these children as they often have severe nasal abnormalities. I would also like to apply my knowledge of nasal reconstruction in cosmetic surgery," she said.
When she is not working – which isn't very often, Mahoko loves baking, walking on the beach and doing yoga. She also loves travelling, learning new languages and finding out about different cultures.