Pieter-Steph du Toit could have required a leg amputation had it not been for the diligent work of Stormers team doctor Jason Suter, according to coach John Dobson.
World Rugby Player of the Year Du Toit limped out of the Super Rugby defeat to the Blues last month with what did not appear to be a serious injury.
However, a rapid diagnosis from the Stormers medical team at Newlands made it clear that the South Africa flanker’s career was in doubt, but he is only set to be out for three months after undergoing surgery.
Dobson said: “Doc deserves enormous credit for Pieter-Steph, had a rugby player lost his leg it would have been devastating for the game.
“And if it wasn’t for the timely intervention then I think [he could have lost his leg]… almost half of the 43 reported cases [worldwide] had resulted in that.”
Suter said it took less than 15 minutes to understand the extent of Rugby World Cup-winner Du Toit’s injury.
“He had a medical emergency after the Blues game. He had a haematoma that developed into an acute compartment syndrome. It’s incredibly rare – there have been only 43 [cases] listed in the literature.” Suter said.
He added: “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.
“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.”