JOHANNESBURG – A Comrades Marathon veteran who completed the race for the first time since he was impaled on a 1.8m crowbar, has handed his finishing medal to the trauma surgeon who played a leading role in saving his life.
“This is not only from me, I am speaking on behalf of so many patients treated here at Netcare Milpark Hospital,” Danie de Wet said as he handed the framed medal to Professor Kenneth Boffard, director of the internationally renowned trauma programme at the facility.
De Wet and his wife, Liezl, expressed their gratitude to Boffard, his team and the Netcare 911 paramedics who worked together to save his life after the freak accident in January 2015.
“I want to thank you for the professional and caring manner in which all of you - including the paramedics, trauma surgeons and nurses, as well as other healthcare professionals - dedicate yourselves to saving other people,” De Wet, an engineering supervisor, said just over two weeks after completing the 90km marathon.
He was airlifted to Netcare Milpark Hospital after being impaled on a nearly two-metre metal industrial crowbar, known as a “gwala”, 3.5km underground at a mine in Carletonville. He had been using the gwala while washing out an underground dam when he suddenly slipped and the metal bar penetrated his body, entering the groin and sticking out just below his shoulder blade.
Streamlined interventions by the mine’s rescue team, Netcare 911 paramedics, the helicopter emergency medical service and the surgeons and nurses at Netcare Milpark Hospital contributed to De Wet’s life being saved, and he walked out of the hospital just 19 days after the accident.
De Wet completed the ultra-marathon in 11 hours and 30 minutes. “I must say the race was tough,” he said.
“Daniel and Liezl de Wet and their family, who accepted a challenge, are an example to all on the road to recovery. On behalf of all of us, every staff member who contributed to helping you get well, we have great respect for you and your family and for what you achieved,” Boffard said.