How Stormers' Bok almost lost his leg
INJURY UPDATE: World Rugby player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit was at risk of losing his leg after a seemingly innocuous knock against the Blues a fortnight ago.
However, the quick actions of Stormers team doctor Jason Suter prevented a catastrophic, permanent disability.
Suter and coach John Dobson fronted up to the media at their training base in Bellville to provide an update on the horror run of injuries that have robbed them of five of their World Cup-winning Boks.
Du Toit walked off in the 67th minute of the 14-33 loss to the Blues at Newlands on February 29 and the initial media dispatches only listed it as a ‘haematoma’ to his left thigh
However, Suter on Tuesday provided clarity and revealed that it was far more traumatic than what has been made known.
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“He had a medical emergency after the Blues game,” the doctor explained, adding: “He had a haematoma that developed into an acute compartment syndrome.
“It’s incredibly rare. There are only 43 [cases] that has been listed in the literature [worldwide].”
Then came the real bombshell.
“It’s a medical emergency because if you don’t pick it up early they lose blood supply to the leg and they lose the leg.
“Within 15 minutes of him coming off the field and assessing him, we realised that he was at risk of this particular rare condition [and losing his leg].
“He was taken straight to Vincent Pallotti [Hospital] where he had a vascular surgeon waiting and he was operated on that night.
“It’s very unusual, very rare but they had to cut through the muscle to release the pressure and they were only able to close that leg 10 days after his initial injury.”
The doctor said Du Toit is “recovering well” at home and he is expected in about three months’ time.
Suter’s disclosure, that it was a potentially ‘career-threatening’ injury had Dobson shaking his head in disbelieve.
However, he praised the medical staff for their quick response.
“Doc deserves enormous credit for [the way he treated] Pieter-Steph,” Dobson said.
“Had a rugby player lost his leg it would have been devastating for the game – Pieter-Steph and the game worldwide.
“If it wasn’t for the timely intervention, as doc [Suter] pointed out, almost half of the 43 reported cases had resulted in that [losing their legs].”
Siyamthanda Kolisi “is recovering really well”, after he suffered a Grade Three medial collateral ligament tear in the opening match against the Hurricanes. He should be back on the playing field in about four weeks.
“His was [originally] a 10- to 12-week injury,” Suter said.
Hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi, another of the Stormers’ injured World Cup stars, tore off his hamstring in the same match against the Hurricanes.
“It was a surgical case and at this stage, he is on track, he’s doing well,” the doctor said, adding: “However, it was a severe injury and he is expected to be out – from the time of injury – for between four and five months.”
Meanwhile, Suter also confirmed another two “big” injuries suffered by World Cup Boks in last weekend’s loss to the Sharks in Durban.
Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies fractured his fibula and is expected to be out for three months.
“We are treating him conservatively and while that [treatment] is ongoing we are also going to [surgically] clean up the ankle injury [he has been struggling with].
Lock John Schickerling tore a muscle in his arm, described by the doctor as a “four-week injury”.
Prop Steven Kitshoff tore his pectoral muscle and requires surgery.
“He [Kitshoff] is a long-term injury and is expected to return to play in four months’ time.”
Dobson struggled to find words to describe the number of “deeply traumatic” injuries his team had suffered this season.
“This has nothing to do with workload,” he said, adding: “It is something that you can’t explain.”
Five of the Stormers’ six World Cup Springboks are now sidelined with long-term injuries.
“I don’t know what the statistical chance of that is. It is really freakish.”