Rugby

Doctor confirms Joost's fears

2011-07-27 22:30
Joost van der Westhuizen (File)
Pauli van Wyk

Johannesburg - Joost van der Westhuizen does indeed suffer from a deadly motor neuron disease (MND) and has been given between two and five years to live.

This was confirmed earlier this week by Dr Jody Pearl, a neurologist at the Sunninghill hospital in Sandton.

"Joost was examined by Dr (Erik) Pioro, a leading expert on motor neuron disease at the neuromuscular unit of the Cleveland hospital," said Pearl after they had visited the hospital in Ohio last week.

Almost 200 neurologists work in the hospital.

"Dr Pioro confirmed that Joost does indeed suffer from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which gives him a 80% chance to live between two and five years," said Pearl.

According to the medical text book, The Merck Manual, ALS is the most common type of motor neuron disease.

It is also known as Lou Gehrig-disease.

ALS causes motor neurons in the brain and spinal chord to shrink and disappear, and with voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralysed.

Pearl says it seems that the illness often occurs in sportsmen, but it is yet to be proven as such.

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