You can't replace Superman

A tribute to Christopher Reeve - super-hero to many

A few months after his accident, Christopher Reeve told interviewer Barbara Walters that he had considered suicide in the first dark days after he was injured. But he quickly overcame such thoughts when he saw his children. "I could see how much they needed me and wanted me ... and how lucky we all are and that my brain is on straight."

A highly motivated and inspirational person it was with shock that the world heard Christopher Reeve had died of heart failure on the 10th of October.

He had gone into cardiac arrest while at his home in Pound Ridge, New York. He then fell into a coma and died the next day at a hospital. Christopher had developed a serious systemic infection from a pressure wound, a common complication for people living with paralysis. He was 52.

The star of the Superman movies suffered a near fatal riding accident nine years ago which led to him being a ventilated quad. As a consequence he took up the cause of the disabled, founding the Christopher Reeve Foundation and he also became a worldwide advocate for spinal cord research. In his quest for a cure he supported embryonic stem cell research.

The QASA office in South Africa received many calls from South Africans expressing their sorrow at Reeve's death in the days following the announcement that he had died. QASA has sent a letter to his family from all of South Africa stating this.

“Christopher Reeve was a great friend to South African quads, taking a special interest in this country to the point where he expressed the desire to come and see it for himself one day,” says Ari Seirlis, national director of the Quadriplegic Association of South Africa (QASA) and a personal friend of Reeve's.

Seirlis says Reeve's death is a huge loss. “Reeve was like a Nelson Mandela, drawing attention to a cause and through that attention generating funds for that cause.”

Seirlis says the cause will always be there and the Foundation will continue, but now it will sadly be without Reeve, although his legacy will still be behind it. “This will have an effect in that, while research will continue, I don’t believe the funding will be as great.”

Seirlis, who attended Reeve's fiftieth birthday two years ago, says we must celebrate Reeve's life. “A ventilated quad does not have a long lifespan and Reeve had a decade of which every day, every week and every year must be celebrated.”

World Award winners Morgan Freeman and Christopher Reeve pose for the cameras – Christopher’s son, Matthew, holds his father’s trophy.

This group shot was taken at the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation annual event in November 2003. With Dana Reeve (second from left) and Christopher are honourees Michael Graves, Francine LeFrak and Rick Freidberg.

QASA Director Ari Seirlis travelled twice to the US to meet Christopher Reeve, most recently as a guest at Reeve’s 50th birthday celebrations two years ago. “Christopher took a special interest in South Africa," says Ari.

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