South Africans have praised athlete Wayde van Niekerk for being more than just a winner on the track. On Thursday the 23-year-old sportsman donated half a million rand to Newborns Groote Schuur Trust.
According to Athletics Africa, Wayde himself was delivered prematurely and spent weeks in an incubator at Groote Schuur Hospital’s Neonatal Unit.
The 400m prodigy, born at 29 weeks, weighed less than 2kg at birth and his chance of survival was slim. Today he’s the fourth fasted 400m champion in history… providing inspiration and hope to parents of premature babies.
Wayde told local reporters at the handover at Century City Convention Centre that he hopes to help thousands of premature babies who go through Groote Schuur Hospital’s neonatal unit, and to make his mother proud: “My mother is very passionate about premature babies since she cared for one herself. Through this donation I’m showing my support to her causes, and to make her proud.
“I’m my mother’s seed and I want to help her in every manner I can.”
His mom, Odessa Swarts, wrote on Facebook: “What more can a mother ask for, than just to say thank You Lord for choosing me to be his Mom. Blessed.”
Fans sent tweets from “has anyone told you lately… We are very proud of you Wayde!?? strength to strength. You’re a WINNER” to “my son was prem at 1,8kg so I know how important this donation is”.
@BlitzBokke sent him “much respect” and Newborns Trust wrote on Facebook: “A BIG thank you Wayde from all our tiny preemies for helping to make a difference to lots of little lives!”
The hospital’s CEO Bhavna Patel said Wayde’s donation will be used for “much needed equipment, and restructuring and improving the technology we use in the unit to monitor these babies.”
According to Groote Schuur Newborns Trust:
- 1 in 7 babies are born prematurely in South Africa every year
- premature birth is the second leading cause of newborn death globally
- the exact cause is unknown meaning any pregnant woman might be at risk
- the Neonatal Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital is over-crowded with less than half the space it needs for the 3,200 small and sick babies it cares for annually
- over 500 of these babies have a birth weight of less than 1500g
- up to 30 percent of the unit’s babies are HIV exposed
- survival rates for premature babies have increased significantly in the past 20 years but the unit’s facilities are stretched way beyond minimum standards.
Thanks @WaydeDreamer for donating R500 000 to Groote Schuur Hospital. INCREDIBLE!!!
Well Done. Impressive. pic.twitter.com/nAbUG4xg5y
— Ricardo Mackenzie (@ricardomackenzi) May 20, 2016
The #SouthAfrican 400m prodigy, delivered prematurely, spent weeks in an incubator at Groote Schuur Hospital’s neonatal unit as an infant.
— Athletics Africa ? (@athleticsafrica) May 20, 2016