The country can't produce its own paediatric heart surgeons. But that may be beginning to change, starting in Cape Town.
Surgeons from a non-profit organisation are saving children's lives with much needed heart surgery.
The country's health system is ravaged, but a team of volunteer doctors visit regularly: operating on the desperate and training local medical staff.
Doctors have performed a ground-breaking heart operation on a 59-year-old woman in Cape Town, Mediclinic Southern Africa has confirmed.
Johannesburg doctors are deciding whether to operate on six-day-old baby Ashleigh, who was born with part of her heart outside her chest.