Achmat Hassiem File photo: AFP
Achmat Hassiem File photo: AFP

Achmat ’Sharkboy’ Hassiem could be brought out of coma

By Logan Marshall Time of article published Sep 21, 2021

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Cape Town – The mother of Paralympian swimmer Achmat ’’Sharkboy’’ Hassiem, Thoraiyah, is confident that he is on the road to recovery.

She told Cape Talk this morning that he could be taken off his life support this week after having been placed in a medically induced coma. Hassiem’s mother even believes he could be swimming again.

The 39-year-old Paralympic bronze medallist was admitted to a Cape Town hospital on September 8 due to complications after undergoing a spinal operation.

Hassiem's mother told EWN yesterday: “We know Achmat is a fighter. He fought through that shark attack, and he will fight through this too.

“He had a spinal operation, and he was fine. Then he just struggled to breathe, his neck started to swell up, and they had to do another emergency operation and put him on life support and in an induced coma

“Every day when we come to hospital, there's some improvement; his vitals are looking much better now, his temperature came down.’’

British-South African endurance swimmer and ocean advocate Lewis Pugh is one of many who have offered their support for Hassiem, saying: ’’My thoughts are with my dear friend, Achmat Hassiem – Paralympic medallist and UN Global Shark Guardian. He fought off a shark, he'll get through this.’’

The swimming community and Hassiem’s alma mater, Bergvliet High School, have all asked people to keep him in their prayers.

He was nicknamed ’’Sharkboy’’ after losing his lower right leg in a shark attack in 2006 while trying to save his younger brother, Tariq, while training for lifesaving exams at Muizenberg beach.

Hassiem then became a Paralympic swimmer, representing South Africa in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro. He retired from his competitive swimming career after the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016, focusing on marine conservation work.

He spends a large part of his time travelling around the world conducting motivational talks and championing for the protection of sharks.

“I just want to give back to the shark. It was a shark that helped me realise my dreams and I owe it to these endangered sea creatures,” Hassiem has been quoted as saying.

“I want South Africa to be a champion for the sharks, just like the shark was a champion for me.”


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