On Sunday 15 September, a group of energetic members of the University of Cape Town’s Surgical Society will take to the streets for the annual Scrub Run, with a shared goal to raise R150 000. The money raised will be donated to the Weekend Waiting List Initiative at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

The 10km run forms part of the Peace Run at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. Participating students will run the distance in their surgical scrubs, to raise not only money but also awareness for the cause.

The Hospital’s Weekend Waiting List Initiative was instituted in 2011 as a way to reduce patient waiting times for less complex surgeries. Surgical procedures are generally scheduled during the week and more complex cases take priority over minor procedures. This means that patients awaiting less complicated treatments, such as cyst removals, reconstructive surgery and dental surgery, are added to a waiting list. Waiting causes anxiety and stress for the patients and their families. The Weekend Waiting List Initiative enables the Hospital to add an extra day to the surgical calendar, helping to provide relief for young patients sooner.

In 2018, 138 patients received surgery sooner through the Weekend Waiting List Initiative. In just one example in 2018, seven-year-old Ismail was referred for dental surgery after a specialist saw that his mouth was badly infected with gum boils. Despite the pain, because his condition wasn’t life-threatening, ordinarily he would have been sent home with medication while waiting for a slot to open in the surgical calendar. However, through the Initiative, Ismail was able to have the essential surgery much sooner, on a Saturday. He was discharged the same day and was able to return back to a normal, pain-free life. Since the initiative was launched in 2011, 943-weekend surgeries have been performed.

The Children’s Hospital Trust, which administers the funds raised, aims to raise a total of R900 000 in 2019, to fund an extra day of surgery every week between July and December. One hundred percent of the funds raised through the Scrub Run is donated to the Weekend Waiting List Initiative.