From coma to sideline, Heinrich lives for rugby


When Heinrich Dauth was admitted to hospital shortly before his 14th birthday with an abscess on the brain, it was not certain whether he would survive.

This gr. However, the 9-year-old from Diamantveld High School in Kimberley exceeded all expectations and a year later he is not only healthy, he is once again living out his passion for rugby. Even if it is now from the sidelines.

Heinrich, now 15, was admitted to the Lenmed hospital in Kimberley last year with bleeding on the brain. His heart function was a paltry 19%; he had splatters of blood on his brain and the doctors had little hope.

He ended up being in a coma for five days and a month in the intensive care unit and then had to start walking all over again. He did suffer hearing loss in his right ear and lost all feeling in his right leg. He was also advised to avoid any contact sports.

“It’s bad for me not to be able to play rugby myself, but I know it’s for my own good. I know my story can inspire others to make the best of a bad cause despite difficult times.”

During the school holidays, Heinrich was at the Wildklawer sports tournament where he fulfilled a role as line judge. He first had to pass a series of fitness tests for referees.

“It was tough! I did athletics at the beginning of the year – so I was quite fit, but it’s a stressful story.”

He hopes to soon complete a refereeing course through the Griqua rugby union.

“I like being in control of a game – especially sharing a field with the players. This is just the beginning of my refereeing career. The more I have the whistle around my neck, the more I learn about the game.”

He dreams of playing a test between the Springboks and New Zealand one day, but knows there is still a lot of hard work ahead.

From severe headache to coma

Heinrich complained of an extreme headache the day before his birthday.

Francois, his father, took him to a general practitioner for tests, after which the family doctor advised his parents to take Heinrich to a hospital in a hurry.

He had to get an intravenous tube in his nose and could neither speak nor eat.

“It was a nasty experience for us as parents,” Francois tells RNews.

His parents were constantly on their knees praying for their son. “There were many tears shed. We are so grateful that our son has recovered so well.”

Dr. Keobakile Leshogo, neurologist, and Randy Negovha, nurse at Lenmed Kimberley, kept a 24-hour vigil at his bedside.

“The Kimberley community even came to visit him in the hospital and prayed with us. The staff looked after our son so well.”

Heinrich has to go for a follow-up visit every three months just to make sure there are no complications. He is not currently using any medication.

Karin, Heinrich’s grandmother, is incredibly proud of her grandchild.

“Grandma’s little iron. Thanks to everyone who prayed for him. Our great Lord has heard your prayers. He makes us proud!”

Rugby is in Heinrich’s blood. His eldest brother, Franco, plays for the Griquas’ o. 21 team and his grandfather Floris Byleveld played for Namibia’s Western rugby team in his days. Heinrich himself for his school’s o. Played 15 A-team before the disease struck him.

Byleveld was also a referee for many years and played for the Van Druten region. In 1998 he took part in the Old Boys’ World Cup Rugby Series, where the team won gold.

Apart from his work as a referee, Heinrich is one of the coaches of Laerskool Dutoitspan in Kimberley’s o. 13 rugby team. In the final round, this team was the runners-up at the Wilderklawer tournament. After the tournament, the South African Deaf Rugby Union also approached him to act as an ambassador.

He has not yet attended a Bok matchup himself, but hopes to watch the world champions run on the field against Portugal in Bloemfontein later this year.