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Mon Apr 21 04:05:43 SAST 2014

Possible link between fertiliser and Joost's disease

DAN RETIEF | 26 November, 2011 23:055 Comments
Fikile Mbalula and Joost van der Westhuizen during the 40th birthday celebration of Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula at Irene SAX, Centurion on October 29, 2011 in Pretoria
Image by: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

FORMER Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen, 40, has said he may be confined to a wheelchair within six months.

He was diagnosed with a fatal motor neuron disease a year ago and given a life expectancy of two to five years.

This week he told of how he was "tormented" by thoughts of never seeing his daughter Kylie, 5, dance or son Jordan, 7, play rugby one day - and that "I would not be there for them".

"At times it has been emotionally terrible for me."

He said the disease, which is incurable, had been hard on his parents, "especially my dad".

"I had to drag myself out of it. Was I going to lie around at home and deteriorate quickly, or was I going to be as busy as possible and surround myself with positive people?

"I was diagnosed with amyo-trophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a year and one month ago and was told then that I could expect two years of quality life before the bad stuff sets in. Your body just gets weaker, but your mind stays 100%," he said.

The rugby great said there could be a link to his condition and the fertilisers and paint used on rugby fields.

When US specialist Dr Eric Pioro was treating Van der Westhuizen at his clinic in Cleveland, the doctor had asked whether the rugby player had ever been exposed to fertilisers.

Van der Westhuizen said: "I remembered having spent some time on farms as a child, but then it struck me: from the age of five I have been playing rugby and what did I do? I passed the ball. And what did I do before feeding a scrum or passing? I licked my fingers.

"Dr Pioro told me there's a soccer team in Italy in which six out of 11 players contracted ALS. They're focusing on fertiliser on sports fields being a contributor to coming down with ALS, as there is also an unusually high incidence of it among American farmers."

He said, however, that the link to fertilisers "is as yet unproven".

The Springbok legend was honoured at a banquet at Emperors Palace, Johannesburg, on Tuesday at a function attended by 1200 guests - including former Springbok captains and many of his teammates, such as those in the squad which won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

"The amazing brotherhood of rugby was a great help to me," Van der Westhuizen said. "Andre Venter [the Springbok flank confined to a wheelchair after contracting transverse myelitis, a disease of the spinal cord] contacted me and just said: 'Buddy, together we'll get through this,' and I've received letters of support from all over the world.

"I'm lucky I can still walk. My speech is affected. Both my arms are weak and my right leg causes me to limp," he said, slurring his words slightly.

"However, I'm lucky in that I can still look after myself although everything I do takes twice as long."

Van der Westhuizen said he had asked: "'Why me?' And the answer came, 'Why not me?' ... it registered with me that if this is the cross I have to bear to help future generations then I'll do it.

"I was a person who got away with a lot of things, I was arrogant and I can see that it was wrong," he said of the "sex, drugs and video tape" revelations that destroyed his marriage to singer Amore Vittone.

Despite apologising, the media continued to hound him: I sometimes felt South Africans only forgive people once they've gone to the grave ..." However, he was now in "a good place".

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Possible link between fertiliser and Joost's disease

For Commenters Consideration | Please stick to the subject matter
Mon Apr 21 04:05:43 SAST 2014 ::


Poor Joost. Hopefully now he has been finally forgiven for everything by everyone, and good to see he is in a good place and being philosophical about it. And if his fatal illness leads to further scientific research on motor neuron disease and some necessary changes with regards to use of fertilisers on sports fields etc - then that would become a part of his legacy too.
My understanding is that is is far more likely due to exposure to herbicides rather than fertilisers.
There have been cases of instantaneous motor neurone type illness when farmers have received a lung full of fumes from a herbicide tank on a sprayer left in the sun.
The chemical companies making them are very quick on the legal trigger the moment any brand name is mentioned which shuts scientists up but the net is closing.
I know many South African groundsmen use gallons of the stuff every week, because it saves them having to organise weeding gangs.
Chin up Mr van der Westhuizen, and do not give up hope -- someone wins the lottery every week.
I find it rather strange... that after his "SEX & DRUGS " session the South African public alomst CRUCIFIED HIM....

Now after he was told he will be going 'downhill'... every one is praying for him!

Strange world we live in!

Johnb..... problem with the Lotto winners is that NO ONE EVER GETS TO MEET THEM.... the winners are most probably GOVT OFFICIALS....

Maybe they should look at drugs (expecially coke use), and motor neuron disease. I am not being mean but we all know that drugs kill braincells. It is aposibility we should look at. He is lucky he never got HIV with his history of prostitutes. Just being a realist.
Sad to say this but another thing I noticed was that Joost often had this thick redneck boere attitude of white superiority...well, seems like he is not so superior now! Reality comes to a ll of us...Joost did a lot of bad and wrong things, created bad he must make good karma...or it will be too late...