Zim’s ‘finest’ anesthetist is no more!

Matthew Takaona/Ancilla Gotore

MIRROR REPORTERS

MASVINGO – Samson Shumbairerwa, a leading medical doctor in Harare and one of Zimbabwe’s finest specialists in Critical Care Medicine and anesthesia is no more.

An accomplished lecturer and chairman of the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) for 12 years, Dr Shumbairerwa (55) breathed his last at 5am on Tuesday last week at the Avenues Clinic in Harare after a long battle with prostate cancer.

He spent most of Monday calling close friends and relatives and bidding them farewell before he died the next morning

He was a key cog when a team of Zimbabwean doctors separated a set of Siamese twins Kupakwashe and Tapuwanashe Chitiyo at Sally Mugabe Hospital in July 2014. He served Government and the UZ concurrently for 21 years.

One mourner said of him; “His impact on Anaesthesia and Critical Care Medicine in Zimbabwe is profound and unquantifiable. The products of his tireless work and seeds sown in the medical fraternity will continue to blossom”.

Another doctor said, “the brightest light among us has been put out”.

The funeral started at his Mt Pleasant home in Harare and burial took place at Shumbairerwa Village under Chief Munyaradzi in Gutu on Friday last week.

He received a huge send-off; more than 50 specialists, hundreds of mourners including academics, relatives and friends gathered at the village to bid farewell to an illustrious man who left a legacy in the field of anesthesia including churning out over 100 anesthetists at diploma and degree level and was appointed to the Covid-19 Advisory Board Committee by President Mnangagwa.

Some of Dr Shumbairerwa’s achievements include the introduction of the Health Education Advanced Leadership Program for Zimbabwe (HEALZ) and reintroduction of the open-heart surgery program. He also established firm academic ties between the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiology, Stanford University, and the University of Vermont in the USA. 

Zimbabwe Anesthetic Association President, Dr Musvo Mapfanyangira said the medical fraternity is shattered by Dr Shumbairerwa’s death.

Speaking at the burial, Mapfanyangira described the late as an anesthetist par excellence, a remarkable professional, a disciplinarian and a man who widened the horizons of the anesthetic field in Zimbabwe. His contribution to Zimbabwe’s health sector is difficult to match, said Dr Mapfanyangira.

“He trained all the aesthetic doctors for the past two decades and clowned them to be like him. His presence instilled discipline in the field resulting in smooth flow of work.

“Affectionately known as mudhara, Dr Shumbairerwa chaired the Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care Medicine from 1 February 2005 -March 2017. He oversaw the graduation of 74 Diploma in Anesthesia candidates and 40 MMed students who practice at specialist level. He worked tirelessly for the continuous development and advancement of the program as well as delivery of a safe anaesthetic while maintaining a high standard of professionalism and practice,” said Dr Mapfanyangira.

Dr Shumbairerwa’s son, Obert said that his father gathered close family members and actually bid them farewell on November 7, 2022 before he died the next morning at around 5am. He described his father as a devout Christian and a member of the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe who was a philanthropist, a humble man and a unifier who united the family.

He noted his immense contribution to the development of Shumbairerwa Secondary and Primary schools. Dr Shumbairerwa attended Shumbairerwa Primary School.

The late was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2018.

He was a fourth born in a family of seven and he is survived by his wife, Angela and two sons, Takudzwa and Anesu.

Dr Shumbairerwa began his illustrious academic journey at Shumbairerwa Primary School in 1972 and completed his primary education in Victoria Falls at Chinotimba Primary School. He completed his Ordinary Level at Victoria Falls High School and did his A Level at Gokomere High School. 

He joined UZ as a medical student in 1988 and completed his first degree in 1992. He enrolled for his Anaesthesia and Critical Care Master’s program in 1995 and completed it in 1998 and joined UZ as a lecturer in 2000.  

“Dr Shumbairerwa was also the recipient of a prize at the WFSA in Hong Kong 2016, after his presentation on a paper titled “Limitations in Anaesthesia Provision in Resource Limited Countries”

Dr Denis Sibanda, a close friend to Dr Shumbairerwa said, “the brightest light amongst us has been put out”. 

“Our condolences go out to the Shumbairerwa family who have lost their hero, to colleagues who have lost a compatriot, to his many students who have lost an impeccable academic and to the Zimbabwe Anesthetic Association that has lost a rock in its foundation.  Go well Dr Samson Shumbairerwa, your presence shall surely and sorely be missed for ages to come,” said Dr Sibanda.

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