Joost’s motor neuron disease diagnosis ‘confirmed’

2011-07-28 07:36

It has reportedly been confirmed that former Springbok rugby player Joost van der Westhuizen suffers from a motor neuron disease.

He has between two and five years to live, according to Beeld.

“Joost was examined by doctor (Erik) Pioro, a leading expert on motor neuron disease at the neuromuscular unit of the Cleveland hospital,” said doctor Jody Pearl, a neurologist at Sunninghill hospital in Sandton.

“Doctor Pioro confirmed that Joost does indeed suffer from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which gives him an 80% chance to live between two and five years,” said Pearl.

The disease causes motor neurons in the brain and spinal chord to shrink and disappear, which means that a patient slowly becomes paralysed.

The body progressively loses the ability to function and death usually occurs within three to five years of diagnosis.

Van der Westhuizen (40) retired as the most capped Springbok of all time and played in the 1995, 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cup tournaments.

After his retirement, he joined SuperSport as a rugby commentator in 2004, but his contract was terminated in 2009 when Heat magazine reported that it had video evidence of him snorting a white substance from the stomach of a blonde woman.

He first denied that it was him but later confessed.

The saga seemed to have led to the breakdown of his marriage to Amor Vittone, an Afrikaans entertainer.

The couple, who was known as the South African “Posh and Becks”, had two children.

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