Man ready for Comrades again after freak accident nearly killed him three years ago

2018-06-01 19:04
PHOTO: Supplied

PHOTO: Supplied

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When he was impaled on a crowbar in 2015, Danie de Wet was convinced he’d never run the Comrades again.

“Just more than three years ago my wife and colleagues were praying for my survival,” Danie recalls.

Now, on 10 June, he’ll be running the gruelling ultramarathon again for the first time since the accident that nearly killed him.

Before the 2015 incident Danie had completed the Comrades six times. On the day of the accident Danie, an engineering foreman, was working about 3,5m underground at a mine in Carletonville, helping to drain a dam.

His foot slipped and he fell, impaling himself on an upright crowbar (of about 1,8m in length) beneath him. 

Paramedics sedated him and the rescue team had to work carefully to keep from jarring the crowbar or knocking it against something. The mine’s rescue team brought him to the surface on a stretcher with the crowbar still in place.

It had entered his body near his groin, gone right through his torso and exited just under his left shoulder blade.

Danie says he had to sit in an uncomfortable position on the stretcher and couldn’t lie down because of the position the crowbar was in. He’d been taken to the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg in a helicopter. Professor Kenneth Boffard, a trauma surgeon at the hospital, operated on Danie to remove the crowbar.

Because the crowbar had penetrated his stomach and chest, he had to undergo a second operation. He lost a kidney, a section of his intestines and his stomach was partially resected.

“It was a miracle when I walked out of the hospital 19 days later,” Danie says, adding that he’s still grateful every day to the hospital personnel who saved his life. He returned to work two weeks after being discharged from hospital.

He says in the beginning of his recovery he didn’t think he’d ever be able to run the Comrades again.

“I’m not going to mince words – I know it’s not going to be easy,” Danie says. “This morning I came across a quote again shared by Louis Massyn [who’s run the Comrades 45 times] that says you just need to keep putting your left foot in front of your right foot and moving forward. It’s about not giving up and to just keep going.

“I’ve had myself regularly tested and two weeks ago my doctor gave me the all clear. I’m grateful that everything’s looking good.”

Danie trains with a group of other joggers, he says. He has only praise for their support.

“We’re calling ourselves ‘The Group’ and everyone supports me and motivates me.”

In June last year he started thinking about competing in the Comrades again and since then he started training. He’s lost 26kg – from 111kg to 93kg.

Danie wants to dedicate his participation to all emergency and hospital personnel who devote their lives to helping others.

“I’m grateful every day for the Lord’s mercy that I felt on the day of my accident and still experience every day.

“I got a second chance in life and I’m going to make something of it. There’s no excuse not to run that 90km.”


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