Ex-paralympian, Achmat 'Sharkboy' Hassiem, off life support but not out of danger yet - family

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South Africa's Achmat Hassiem puts on his prosthesis after competing a heat of men's 100 m freestyle (S10) of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
South Africa's Achmat Hassiem puts on his prosthesis after competing a heat of men's 100 m freestyle (S10) of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP
  • Former Paralympian Achmat "Sharkboy" Hassiem is off life support.
  • He has been in an induced coma for the past two weeks following complications after surgery.
  • A crowdfunding campaign was started for Achmat to help with his medical expenses.

The family of former Cape Town Paralympian Achmat "Sharkboy" Hassiem have revealed that he was "finally" off life support but still in a critical condition.

Achmat, 39, has been in an induced coma since 9 September after he had experienced complications following surgery he had done on his back and shoulder.

His parents Moegseen and Thoraiya Hassiem told News24 that they were "beyond grateful" their son was being spared to live another day each day. 

"It is heartbreaking seeing my boy laying in the hospital and knowing I can't do anything to help him is very sad. It's every mother's worst nightmare to see their child sick and not being able to take away the pain they're going through. It is very hard. I know my son needs help and it's difficult seeing him like this," said Thoraiya.

According to the emotional mom, Achmat was taken off life support last week Thursday with the hopes of him being able to react to something, but unfortunately he was still not able to respond to anything. 

"The doctors have told me that they are concerned about his fever which is still 38.5 due to a very recent infection he has picked up but they are monitoring him closely," she said.       

READ | 'He fought off a shark, he'll get through this' - family hopeful Paralympian can defy the odds again 

According to the younger sibling Taariq, 32, the family has been at Achmat's bedside every day with the hopes that he will make a full recovery.

Taariq said:

We have to take it day by day and wait and see if he wakes up. Right now, he's not responding to movement and is not able to acknowledge people around him yet.


According to the family, doctors have advised them that Achmat was not out of the "danger zone" yet.

"He's still in a very serious condition, but we are positive that he will pull through. One step at a time," he added.

The former Paralympian and his family were scheduled to go on a road trip to Gqeberha this week with Taariq due to take part in the national life-saving surf competition.

"We were all excited for this road trip as a family, obviously our circumstances and priorities have changed now that my brother is fighting for his life, but I know my brother would still want me to compete. I'll definitely be competing for him!" he said.

Achmat recently celebrated 15 years since his leg was bitten off by a shark.

Achmat recently celebrated 15 years since his leg had been bitten off by a great white shark. 

Thoraiya said it's very "nerve-wracking" not knowing what the next day will bring for her regarding her son.

''Waking up in the morning not being sure of the day until I see my boy somewhat still trying to put up a brave fight to pull through at the hospital is what's keeping me going right now,' she said.    

The family said they have been inundated with prayers and messages from people across the world for Achmat and more so "Sharkboy" fans.

Taariq added that the swelling in his brother's neck has come down a bit and they are very grateful for that.

"It's been and still is a difficult time to see our family - brother, son - like this. The bit of good news does give us hope that we need but he is still in a serious condition. We're a 'never give up' type of family and we believe that Achmat will fight through this," said Taariq.

The has family started a crowdfunding campaign for Achmat as he is going to need plenty of medical interventions once he makes a full recovery.

According to the mom, once Achmat has gained consciousness he will need rehabilitation to eat, move, and more which could be months, if not years.  

"We urge those that is in a position to donate to the campaign to assist with funding toward Achmat's rehabilitation to please donate to the following account," added Taariq.  

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