Dr Maasdorp was employed at Chris Hani Baragwanath, specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, when hijackers followed his wife home from work in August 2007 and shot them both. Despite a bullet in his spine, Donald managed to drag his wife out of the way of the wheels as the hijackers sped away in her car.
And that is the essence of Donald. He is a gentleman and enjoys looking after people.
Dr Maasdorp likes to do things quickly and wasted not a single minute during his ten weeks at Netcare Rehab. His wife had suffered a collapsed lung (from the shooting) and, although recovering well, she and their three young children needed their dad at home. Netcare OTs, physios and nursing staff allowed him to work at his own, rapid, pace.
“The nursing staff were very good. In terms of the physio, one of the physios I worked with was the senior physio and she was excellent. We worked hard together and, in between excercising, we chatted together. A lot of them worried about my mental state (because I never went through the grieving process) and chatting with her helped me quite a bit in terms of coping. She gave me Dr Myburgh’s number.”
Doctor Hans Myburgh is an orthopaedic surgeon who was involved in a road accident in 2001. After months of trying to find a way back into the operating theatre he finally hit upon the solution whilst watching a golf tournament for people with disabilities, when he saw golfers with disabilities using stand up wheelchairs.
Stand up wheelchairs have come a long way in the last eight years and, whereas Dr Myburgh’s original stand up chair weighs about 200 kilograms, Donald looked around and found one that weighs only a quarter of that. It also lifts very quickly and quietly. He has been using it ever since to stand up and operate on his patients.
Dr Myburgh told Dr Maasdorp that his hands and fingers may even become more sensitive and dexterous, a type of compensation, similar to an improvement in hearing in a person who loses their sight. This has indeed happened and, if anything, Donald is now more capable in the operating theatre than before.
He has remained in the public sector, looking after the poorest of the poor and, although most of his colleagues remain conscious of his wheelchair, his patients often fail to notice it. To them he is simply “their Doctor Maasdorp”.
Their Dr Maasdorp is excited to be writing for Rolling Inspiration.
“I read somewhere that people with disabilities, and women, are amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged in South Africa. Imagine if a woman is from a disadvantaged community and in a wheelchair! I have so much to live for. If I can do anything to help those women I will be happy. Just because I cannot walk it doesn’t mean that I cannot make a difference.”
The bullet, still lodged in his spine reminds him of what is important in life. “Since my accident I have slowed down a lot. I like to spend more time with my family, my children. I used to spend far too much time at work.“
Dr Maasdorp will be answering all of your obstetrics and gynaecological questions in future issues of Rolling Inspiration. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and please indicate if you would prefer to remain anonymous.