Shattering Boundaries: SA doctor who saved Siya Kolisi’s World Cup Dream - Dr Willem van der Merwe

Siya Kolisi, the captain of the Springbok rugby team, believed his World Cup dreams were shattered when he injured his cruciate ligament six months before the Rugby World Cup in France. It was his teammates Pieter-Steph du Toit and Handré Pollard who suggested consulting Dr Willem van der Merwe, a Cape Town orthopaedic surgeon and former Free State all-rounder cricketer. Rachel Kolisi appealed to her social media supporters to pray for the Bok captain, hoping for a miracle. After 119 days led his team onto the Millennium pitch in Cardiff in April 2022, marking a recovery of less than 4 months—significantly shorter than the typical 6-9 months athletes endure. In an interview with Biznews, Dr. van der Merwe attributed Kolisi’s recovery more to the captain’s mindset than medical procedures, though he acknowledged making slight adjustments to the surgery to ensure graft protection. Dr. van der Merwe emphasised the significance of the signals doctors convey to patients, revealing that he advised Kolisi against using crutches and encouraged him to cycle, despite objections from the physio who deemed it too early. The response from peers was predominantly negative, with a French orthopaedic surgeon even berating him for jeopardising Kolisi’s future. According to Dr. van der Merwe, athletes like Kolisi and others, including Chad le Clos, possess a unique presence and confidence. When faced with adversity, they believe in themselves, a trait he regards as truly special. - Linda van Tilburg
27 Nov 2023 1PM English South Africa Investing · Business News

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