The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria
Pretoria - The Ministry of Defence has been ordered to pay R10.1million in damages to an injured one-time promising rugby player who was earmarked to play for the Sharks. Michiel de Goede’s career came to an abrupt end after a botched knee operation.

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard that De Goede, now in his late 20s, was such a good rugby player before he injured his knee that even the Lions considered signing him.

Before the operation he had a junior and Under-21 contract as a front rower with the Sharks. De Goede was injured in April 2007 while he was a matric pupil at Hoërskool Eldoraigne in Centurion. The botched operation dashed his dreams of becoming a professional player.

De Goede turned to the court to claim damages from the Minister of Defence after the botched operation at 1 Military Hospital. The first doctor who saw him at the hospital misdiagnosed him with a sprained knee and simply sent him home with a bandage around it. His knee was very swollen but he was told to come back after two weeks.

His father was not happy with the diagnosis and took his son to see an orthopaedic surgeon.

The specialist suggested that an operation should be performed and that his partner, who was operating at I Military Hospital, performed the surgery.

The surgeon at this hospital said he would get someone to “do a good job” on the knee.

The surgeon who was due to perform the operation never examined De Goede prior to the operation. She also never saw any of the medical reports regarding his condition. Neither were any X-rays taken.

She apparently saw him for the first time when he was wheeled into the operating theatre. De Goede was too large to occupy one table in the theatre and two tables were pushed together to support his arms.

According to court papers the surgeon performed the operation after she came back late that afternoon from attending a graduation ceremony. She did not see him again after the operation had been concluded.

Another surgeon operated on him a few months later to remove wire from the knee. He then received physiotherapy on a regular basis and was even seen by the then biokineticist who was with the Sharks medical team. It was then he realised that he could not play professional rugby as his patella was not in the correct position. De Goede subsequently played a few games for the Collegians team in Durban and later the Sharks junior team. However, he was not offered a contract.

The Lions invited him for a medical test as they were interested in his services. But their team doctor found that his knee “would not come right”, and he was not offered a contract.

De Goede blamed the surgeon who initially performed the operation on him for this tragedy. He said his life was devoted to rugby and as a child he played for the Blue Bulls in various age groups.

Pretoria News