Mine engineering supervisor Daniel de Wet should have died three years ago when he was skewered from groin to shoulder by a 1.8m metal crowbar, according to friends and family, who also thought he would never walk properly again.
But on June 10, he will line up with fellow runners to tackle the 90km Comrades Marathon.
When he hits the road between Pietermartizburg and Durban, De Wet will be dedicating his race to “every single rescue worker, paramedic, firefighter and especially to Netcare 911, Netcare Milpark Hospital and trauma surgeon Professor Kenneth Boffard”.
“To think that I have now successfully qualified to take on the Comrades Marathon once more is truly remarkable and, every day, I am so grateful for the recovery I have made,” he said.
Before his accident, De Wet had completed six Comrades.
The accident on an afternoon in January 2015 happened while he was cleaning a dam 3.5km underground at a Carletonville mine, west of Johannesburg, using an extended crowbar to stir up the mud. He slipped, looked down and to his utter disbelief, he realised that the metal bar had penetrated his body through the groin area.
De Wet still remembers how the mine’s rescue team carried him, perched awkwardly in a sitting position on a stretcher as the metal bar protruded from his body almost level with his feet.
“I was talking the whole time, trying to keep the other guys calm,” he says.
Having been brought up to the surface level at a pace that would ensure that he did not suffer any adverse decompression effects, known as “the bends”, he was airlifted to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg by a team of Netcare 911 paramedics.
When he arrived, two surgical teams led by renowned trauma surgeons, professors Boffard and Elias Degiannis, were ready to operate on him: one team concentrating on his injuries in the abdomen and the other in the chest area.
Once the crowbar was pulled completely free from his body, the surgeons realised that the impalement had caused severe damage, destroying a kidney and damaging his small bowel and numerous blood vessels.
Although De Wet lost a kidney, he made rapid progress and was discharged from hospital just 19 days later.
As a token of his appreciation, De Wet presented the 1.8m metal rod that was removed from his body as a gift to Professor Boffard and the Netcare Milpark Hospital.
– Citizen reporter