Dubai: A 36-year-old South African woman, who fell critically ill while cycling in a long-distance triathlon race in Dubai, is desperately looking for two men who came to her rescue and saved her life.
Christine Vorster, a Dubai resident for seven years and founder of camping rental equipment company called CAMPR, told Gulf News: “I would not be here to tell the tale had it not been for them. I just need to know who they were, so I can thank them.”
Vorster said she was participating in the Ironman 70.3 Dubai, doing the 56-mile bike ride, when the mishap occurred on a Saturday morning.
“I had started out in the early hours and had completed around 53 miles when I felt an acute pain in my left leg. I was tried and disoriented. I couldn’t focus on the bike and seemed to be losing all coordination. I must have then fallen on the bike and on to the road,” she said.
“What followed was a daze. I don’t know how long I lay on the road as I was cycling alone and not in a group. At some point, I could vaguely hear a man talking to another man as one of them seemed to bend over me. Thereafter, all I can remember is being half-awake in an ambulance and waking up in hospital, speechless and stuck in my body,” said Vorster.
The athlete, who was rushed to Al Zahra Hospital on Sheikh Zayed Road, had been wheeled into a high-dependency unit as she was in a very serious condition.
Dr Mohammed Khamis, critical care specialist at the hospital, whom Gulf News contacted, confirmed Vorster was “critical”.
“She presented to us after a fainting attack during the Ironman race. She was in a state of disturbed consciousness. She had suffered a severe heat stroke and was dehydrated. Tests also revealed an acute renal failure and rhabdomylosis.”
He explained how rhabdomylosis is a serious medical condition where damaged muscle tissue releases proteins and electrolytes into the blood, which can affect the heart and kidneys and cause permanent disability, or even death.
Vorster, who received aggressive treatment for her multiple health issues, remained in the critical care unit for the next three days.
By the time she was discharged, she had amassed many learnings.
“Never take the warning signs to your health lightly,” said Vorster.
She recalled how a couple of days before the Ironman, she had felt “incredibly tired” but had ignored the signs.
Full of gratitude
“We must listen to our bodies. At the end of the day, prevention is better than cure. Even when I was cycling, I started to feel tired but I continued on the road, telling myself I had only 5km or a few miles left,” she said.
Vorster now shudders to think she could have lost her mobility or even her life under the circumstances. “Things could have easily gone that way. I was lucky to have survived and I can’t thank the two men who stopped by and called the ambulance. I am also very grateful to the doctors and nurses who treated me. They were phenomenal.”
Looking back at it all, Vorster’s faith in humanity itself has been restored. “It’s heartening how there are many Good Samaritans out there who are ready to help.”
Completely recovered now, she said she is full of gratitude.
But clearly, she will not get a sense of closure until she can find the angel-duo who came to her rescue - only to say “thank you” to them.