Sindi van Zyl, a doctor who was accessible to anyone needing her time and help
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Johannesburg - Everyone has a Dr Sindi story. Even people who had never met the doctor have a story to tell about how she touched them through her medical advice and kind-hearted nature.
When news of the doctor’s death after a two-month fight with Covid-19 was made public at the weekend, friends and fans of the 45-year-old relayed their own stories about how they met her.
Dr Sindi van Zyl was not only an accessible doctor to anyone who needed her time and help, but she also shared her life with her many followers across her social media platforms.
Just last week, the nation rallied around the doctor to help pay her medical bills that were running into millions of rand. Through the help of individuals and companies like Woolworths and Le Creuset, the #GiftSindiLife campaign managed to raise just over R1 million.
On Saturday, the family released a statement confirming the death of the much-loved doctor.
“Affectionately known by her friends and family, she was a great doctor, true friend and sister. Her love for family, friends, work and community is well known,” the family said.
“Sindi always offered support and great advice to educate those around her. Not only was she a beacon of love and light on her Kaya FM show Sidebar with Sindi and all her social media platforms, but she genuinely loved and gave endlessly to all she knew with grace and kindness. She modelled the love and grace that she knew in Jesus.”
“She leaves behind her dear husband, Marinus, and beautiful kids, Nandi and Manie.”
Van Zyl was active, especially on Twitter, the platform where she also met many strangers who went on to become her friends.
Some of the many stories shared under the tweet from Twitter user @ Gert_LeNinja who asked “What’s your Dr Sindi Story?” included people telling their versions of how the doctor touched them.
Stories were shared about the doctor’s love for Le Creuset, long flowy dresses, her unfailing love and attention to her patients, how she helped save many people’s lives and followed so many people on the platform.
User @Juliejacobs0202 remembered how Van Zyl counselled her sister who has severe depression.
“She had a way of making you feel seen and heard. She was the definition of love and kindness. This world will never be the same without Dr Sindi in it,” she wrote.
Lucy Makola, another Twitter user, shared how Van Zyl arranged to buy a dress and cake for her mom’s surprise 50th but the event had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.
User @Gracebound_ shared how she was misdiagnosed by another doctor and went to Van Zyl for more tests.
Lala Marishane shared how her pregnancy had her feeling depressed and Dr Sindi gave her much-needed advice that helped her a great deal.
Dr Sindi loved to share her family, affectionately calling her children “the caramellos” as they came from a white dad and black mom.
Van Zyl was relatable and open and known as The People’s Doctor because of it. In 2018, the doctor was named one of Glamour Magazine’s most glamorous women at their annual Women of the Year awards. Van Zyl was honoured for her excellence and activism in health and medicine.
During her acceptance speech, she expressed why she gave people medical advice freely.
“When I was 19 there were two doctors and two nurses who made a decision that they were not going to save my life. That experience shaped the doctor that I am today and I am grateful for it because I decided then that when I become a medical doctor, I don’t want anyone to be in a situation where they are helpless and they don’t know what to do.
“When you are sick, you are very vulnerable. That’s the reason why I spent hours on my phone helping strangers from all over South Africa and the world because of what I went through.”