CAPE TOWN – One afternoon in January 2015, engineering supervisor Daniel de Wet was working on washing out a dam 3.5km underground at a mine in Carletonville, west of Joburg, when the most unimaginable accident occurred.
He had been using an extended crowbar to stir up the mud when he suddenly slipped and the metal bar pierced his body entering his groin area and coming out of his back, just below his shoulder blade.
This week brave De Wet recalled how the mine’s rescue team had to carry him perched awkwardly in a sitting position on a stretcher, as the metal bar protruding from his body was almost level with his feet, making it impossible for him lie down. “I was talking the whole time, trying to keep the other guys calm,” De Wet said.
After reaching the surface, the engineer was airlifted to the hospital, where two surgical teams - one team concentrating on his injuries in the abdomen and one on those in the chest area - attended to him.
Once the crowbar was pulled completely free of his body, doctors saw that the impalement had caused significant damage, destroying one kidney and damaging his small bowel and numerous blood vessels.
De Wet lost a kidney but made rapid progress and was discharged from the hospital in just under three weeks.
Now three years later, he is making his final preparations to run his first Comrades Marathon, a distance of 90.184km.
“Just 3½ years ago, my wife and colleagues were praying for my survival, and when I was able to walk out of the hospital only 19 days later, we regarded it as a miracle from God,” said De Wet.
“To think I've successfully qualified to take on the Comrades once more is truly remarkable and every day I am grateful for the recovery I have made.
“I'm dedicating my run to every single rescue worker, paramedic, firefighter, and especially to Netcare 911, Netcare Milpark Hospital and trauma surgeon Professor Kenneth Boffard,” De Wet said.
“Before my accident in 2015, I ran the Comrades six times, and during my initial recovery after the accident it seemed to me that I would never be able to take part in this gruelling ultra-marathon again.”
On June 10, he will be taking on the challenge with his running club, the Carleton Harriers, wearing race number 49470.
De Wet acknowledged it would be a challenge. “I think the hardest aspect is when you realise that you are running out of time to complete the race but your legs are so tired but you just need to find the strength to push yourself to make up time.”
This year the race starts in Pietermaritzburg. “I prefer the ‘down run’, although the Comrades is never a walk in the park,” De Wet added.
African News Agency (ANA)