Eugene Rossouw

Category Archives: inspiration

Local Inspiration

Hanje Pistorius is completely unaware of how inspirational she is to others in overcoming the challenges she had to face in the past five years.
She is a local Melkbosstrand resident and currently a fifth year medical student at the University of the Free State. An unfortunate event five years ago led to our paths crossing. In only the first few weeks of her studies as a first year student, she and fellow students had to collect money for the university rag at a busy intersection in Bloemfontein.
Her life changed in an instant when she became a victim of a hit and run accident by a fellow student driving under the influence of alcohol. She was struck by the vehicle at such speed that she suffered a traumatic amputation of her left leg just above the knee joint.
I have been involved with Hanje’s prosthetic rehabilitation from the start as a consultant Prosthetist after being contacted by her father who took very proactive action to get her walking again. Approximately two months after her accident she was fitted with, what was five years ago, the latest technology in microprocessor prosthetic limbs.
On the second day of her fitting, we were ready to have her take her first few steps independently. After a bit of training, I was walking behind her supporting her very lightly around her pelvis to ensure she maintains balance and feel secure. Her father was standing a few meters away filming her with his mobile phone camera. Halfway towards him I let her go and she just kept going, she walked bravely another few meters right towards him where she was met with open arms and a big hug. I can only say that all of us where a bit teary to say the least….
Amputation of a limb certainly has such a significant impact on any person’s life on so many levels that there are literally books written on the subject. The individual has to deal with the trauma of the accident, the shock of losing a limb with the related difficulties and inconvenience with regards to mobility. There is also often a significant change in the body image of the individual. As we can all imagine, this would especially be applicable to a young woman. It is fair to say, that the majority of amputees experience stress and a level of depression after amputation.
Along with all the above mentioned factors, the past five years has not been plain sailing. We had to do quite a number of prosthesis refitting procedures due to a loss of volume of her residual leg and in the past year, she had to undergo two revision surgeries to remove non viable bone and correctly attach the muscles of the residual leg. This may sound insignificant, but the reality is that once the prosthesis fitting is compromised, prosthetic mobility become uncomfortable and often not possible. She has to then convert back to using crutches until the leg has healed and is suitable for prosthetic fitting again. She is currently in her final year of Medical studies, and as we all know, medical interns work long and gruelling hours, three months of which she had done this year on crutches!
Through it all, there has also been the stress of coming face to face in court on a couple of occasions with the individual who was responsible for all of this. There is also the disappointment and anger in a judicial system which has let her down with a punishment not suitable for an individual who showed no remorse for the significant consequence to her life due to his irresponsible actions.
Hanje is well on the way to successfully qualifying as a medical doctor within only a few months from now. Medical studies are very challenging and demanding to say the least and those that are brave and bright enough to attempt it, confirms that it certainly takes complete and utter focus and dedication.
It is a fact that quite a large percentage of medical students fail or drop out due to the pressure, intensity and resultant stress imparted by the course.
Hanje had to face all of this, with so much more!
I am convinced that very few individuals could have achieved what she has, maintaining her focus and achieving her goal.
Hanje, I hope that this article dedicated to you could give acknowledgment that indeed you are a great example of bravery and perseverance to many of us.
Training her to decend stairs with the prosthesis I covered her prosthesis with a custom made high definition silicone socmesis.
Hanje wearing the completed prosthesis