Springbok and Stormers star Pieter-Steph du Toit has opened up about the injury that almost cost him his leg.
The 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year is out for the next three months due to a leg injury sustained in his side’s Super Rugby loss to the Blues at Newlands late last month.
Stormers team doctor Jason Suter described the injury as very rare and revealed last week that Du Toit could have lost his leg.
In an interview with Afrikaans newspaper Rapport, Du Toit said he quickly realised the severity of the injury.
“When I got to the hospital, I experienced an incredible amount of pain. I couldn’t bear the pain. They put me on very strong medication, but it did not take away the pain. I just wanted someone to do something for me to take it away.”
Suter described the injury in more detail last week: “He had a haematoma that developed into an acute compartment syndrome. It’s incredibly rare – there have been only 43 (cases) listed in the literature (worldwide).”
Du Toit was operated on that Saturday evening, with a vascular surgeon at Vincent Pallotti Hospital cutting through the muscle to release the pressure.
“During the operation, he tested some of the muscles’ nerves. By then it appeared to be too late for him because some of the muscles did not respond to the tests.
“Then he saw me again on the Monday and tried to close the wound again, but he was unsuccessful. He told me later that he just wanted to see if the muscle would get better. Fortunately, it did.”
When the 27-year-old was operated on again the next Thursday, a plastic surgeon was called upon for assistance.
“They were not sure if they would be able to close the wound… when they saw it, they told each other they were not going to be able to do it. Only when they started working did they see it was going to be possible. And they closed it.”
Stormers head coach John Dobson praised the work done by his team doctor.
“Doc deserves enormous credit for Pieter-Steph, had a rugby player lost his leg it would have been devastating for the game. And if it wasn’t for the timely intervention then I think (he could have lost his leg)… almost half of the 43 reported cases had resulted in that.”
– Compiled by Herman Mostert