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A talented young player’s dreams of becoming a provincial or even Springbok rugby player were shattered by a botched knee operation at 1 Military Hospital.
Acting Pretoria High Court Judge Pieter van Niekerk on Friday found the minister of defence responsible for the damages which Machiel de Goede could prove he suffered as a result of the negligence of surgeons at the hospital in Thaba Tshwane.
De Goede, now 24, is claiming millions of rand in damages.
Experts were clear that he would never be able to play rugby, let alone professional rugby, again.
De Goede was 18 and in matric at the Hoërskool Eldoraigne in April 2007 when he injured his leg during a rugby match.
Because his father is in the defence force, he was taken to the military facility. X-rays showed his knee was not fractured, and the doctor on duty diagnosed it as sprained. He bandaged it and sent De Goede home with pain tablets.
But when the knee did not improve, and the pain did not stop, it transpired he had a ruptured tendon and eight days later he had an operation done by an orthopaedic surgeon at the same hospital.
The surgeon saw De Goede about six weeks later for a check-up and said he was satisfied and sent him for physiotherapy.
A different specialist later removed a wire that had been inserted in the knee.
After matriculating, De Goede joined the Sharks rugby academy in Durban and was offered a contract with that team for 2008.
A biokineticist there immediately recognised the problem as being a high-riding patella – and said De Goede could not play rugby.
He was referred to a specialist who worked with the Sharks, who made the same diagnosis.
The court was told osteo-arthritis had set in around the area, and would probably spread.
Experts said De Goede would probably have to have a knee replacement.
The surgeon who did the initial knee operation denied she had botched it. She said she had performed the operation according to standard procedure.
In her mind, she said, it was a successful operation.
But Judge Van Niekerk said more should have been done to ensure the patella was in place, like checking via X-rays.
He said that De Goede was clearly a talented sportsman, who started playing rugby at the age of five. He was a hefty and healthy young man, who weighed 124kg at the time. The judge said the fact that he was scouted by the Sharks proved that he had great talent.
Compensation will be determined at a later stage. - Pretoria News