Prayers from Fellow MND sufferer weeps for Joost rugby union
JOOST: 89 Tests for the Boks
“THE news about Joost’s health is distressing in the extreme. The thoughts and prayers of Saru, the Springboks and the South African rugby community are with Joost and those nearest and dearest to him at this challenging time,” SA Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins said in a statement yesterday in reaction to the news that Joost van der Westhuizen has been diagnosed with the degenerative Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
“He was an outstanding Springbok and is a legend of our game — he will always have a place of honour in the history of Springbok rugby.”
Van der Westhuizen retired from rugby after playing in his third Rugby World Cup in 2003. He played 89 Tests for the Springboks, a record at the time. He captained the teams 10 times, including at the World Cup in 1999.
As scrumhalf, he scored 38 tries in Tests, including three hat-tricks, and still shares the Springbok record with Bryan Habana.
Former team-mates also expressed their good wishes and sympathy.
“We know he is a fighter and will get through it,” Chester Williams said of Van der Westhuizen.
“It gives me goosepimples to think about it. After everything that’s happened to him, that this has to happen as well. One wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” Williams added. “AS a rugby player you were the best in the world. Fight the disease. A life with meaning is not something that just happens, but something you create.” This was the message of support to Joost van der Westhuizen from a paralysed man who communicates via a special computer he controls with his eyes.
Deon Nel (51) of Krugersdorp also suffers from Motor Neurone Disease (MND). The keen rugby supporter was in tears yesterday when he heard the news of Van Der Westhuizen’s diagnosis.
“Believe in God, your family and friends and don’t underestimate your supporters.
“I’ve been living on a ventilator for three years, get tube feeding and am being nursed at home and I have quality of life,” he said in his SMS.
In December last year, Nel communicated with his family for the first time in two years, after the expensive special computer was donated to him. Dr Henry Kelbrick, Van der Westhuizen’s doctor and friend, said yesterday tests are being done to determine what type of MND he has. “It’s ultimately hairsplitting,” he said. “One wouldn’t want to have any type.”
Kelbrick said Van der Westhuizen was initially very shocked at the diagnosis, but is now trying to come to terms with what he is up against. He is struggling with a lame right arm and sometimes his speech slurs, but otherwise he is still functioning well.
MOTOR Neurone Disease is the degeneration of the nerve fibres that control the muscles. There is no treatment and life expectancy can vary from as little as 14 months to more than a decade. In the later stages, the disease affects the diaphragm and the...