July 11, 2021
Dear MTN Friends and Family
I am writing to share the very sad news that our dear friend and colleague Bonus Makanani passed away in his sleep unexpectedly early Saturday morning at his home in Blantyre, Malawi. According to Professor Taha Taha, Friday was just an ordinary day for Bonus. He attended to a patient in the operation theatre, went into the office and had calls with study monitors, chatted with a colleague, and went home. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
This news and the loss of a dear and trusted colleague has been a shock to all of us, and it reminds us all how precious and unpredictable life can be. I met Bonus when we were just launching the MTN, and over the past 15 years I have had the great honor and privilege to see firsthand just what a bright star he was in our world. When he was an investigator in the HPTN 035 study, I visited the site. It was during this visit that I first saw him at work in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he worked so tirelessly as an obstetrician-gynecologist providing life-saving care. He later served as an investigator in ASPIRE and HOPE and was the protocol co-chair for the ongoing DELIVER Study.
Bonus always had a wry smile on his face. He laughed a lot, though always in soft tones. His voice sounded like no one else’s. He was smart, practical and pragmatic. He was incredibly passionate about caring for pregnant and breastfeeding women and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of women not only in Blantyre but globally. When it came time to plan DELIVER, Bonus submitted his name to be considered as co-chair. I last spoke with Bonus about three weeks ago, when he told me how thrilled he was that this study evaluating the safety of the dapivirine vaginal ring and Truvada as oral PrEP had completed the first cohort of pregnant women. Leading this protocol with Katie Bunge and Lee Fairlie brought him great joy, according to those who saw him daily.
It is nearly impossible to express my sorrow and loss of someone who I considered both a friend and a brother. He was deeply loved by everyone at the Blantyre CRS, by his many colleagues at Malawi College of Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Johns-Hopkins University – and by all of us with the MTN. We can only rejoice in the fact that he shared so much with us, and that he made such a profound impact on his community and our world. He was the best of humankind and we will miss him.
With great sadness,