Cape Town - Western Province Under-21 hooker Daniel du Plessis, who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest on the rugby field last month, has returned home from hospital as he continues his excellent recovery from the incident.
Du Plessis - who turned 20 on February 24 this year - collapsed on the field during the Absa Provincial Under-21 encounter between WP and the Leopards on Saturday, September 5.
His heart stopped and he stopped breathing. He was immediately attended to by the Western Province Under-21 medical team and, together with paramedics from ER24, he was resuscitated on the field and further stabilised in the stadium medical room by the stadium specialists.
Du Plessis spent two weeks in Vincent Pallotti Hospital after the incident, where he came off the ventilator on the Monday (September 7), before recently being moved to Panorama Mediclinic where he was discharged on Friday morning (October 2).
The cause of Du Plessis' sudden cardiac arrest is still to be determined. At this stage it is believed to be hereditary, but tests and studies are ongoing and a full outcome will be released only once it is 100% certain what caused the incident.
Before his discharge from Panorama Medi Clinic on Friday, Du Plessis had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) inserted.
The presence of the device means he will not able to participate in a contact sport - like rugby - in the future, but he will be able to live an active lifestyle and exercise as he pleases once he receives the green light from his specialist.
Daniel's father, Bruce du Plessis, said his son has come to terms with the news of his rugby career being over.
"Daniel will live a healthy, normal life and for that we are all very, very grateful," Bruce du Plessis told the WP Rugby website.
"I cannot explain what we have been through as a family since receiving that call (on September 5), but his recovery since we returned to Cape Town has been nothing short of miraculous.
"We are so relieved that our son has recovered so well and that he has a smile back on his face. Now, of course, we are absolutely delighted and thankful to have him back home."
Bruce and his wife, Janice, attended last Saturday's Currie Cup match between WP and the Pumas at Newlands, which saw them meet with - among others - Dr Karen Schwabe of the WP Under-21 team and the amazing ER24 match-day crew, all of whom combined to save Daniel's life.
Bruce and Janice watched the match between Western Province and the Pumas from the WPRFU Presidential Suite, where they were welcomed by WP president Thelo Wakefield, before Bruce was afforded the opportunity of addressing those present.
Bruce du Plessis said: "Like I said in the Newlands match-day surgery, how do you say thank you to people who have saved your son's life?
"Janice and I will forever be grateful to the WP Rugby medical and fitness teams, the opposition's medical and fitness teams, the ER24 crew... everyone! Since the incident, we have received so much love and care from within the rugby fraternity - some of whom we have not even met - and I just want to say thank you each and every person who, in some way, has contributed to our son's recovery."
Schwabe, who was part of the team that treated Daniel on the field, said: "This is a very, very rare incident in professional sport. But it is even more rare to have a successful outcome of such an incident which is normally catastrophic and/or fatal."