Now he's going, now he's not. Springbok loose-forward, Pierre Spies, has had a tough few weeks.
His diagnosis of pulmonary emboli on July 30 had ruled him out of the Rugby World Cup. However, after further medical tests, two doctors diagnosed the blood clots and coughing up of blood as symptoms of pneumonia.
After further tests, doctors have come to the conclusion that he indeed had pulmonary emboli on the first day of diagnosis. According to a press release by SA Rugby, the respiratory specialist recommends that Spies should undergo full anticoagulation treatment for a minimum of three months. This will unfortunately exclude him from taking part in any contact sport.
Treatment for this disease
How effective is anticoagulation treatment and just what will the effects of having pulmonary emboli be on his rugby career?
Anticoagulation is a treatment for clotting disorders. Anticoagulants reduce the ability of blood to clot and also prevent a clot from getting bigger. In people who have pulmonary emboli, anticoagulants are used to prevent the formation of more blood clots.
The most commonly used anticoagulants are heparin and warfarin. An anticoagulant is used for three to six months to reduce the risk of having another blood clot. Usually anticoagulant treatment is very effective and can be continued throughout someone’s life if their risk of having another pulmonary embolism remains high.
Will he play again?
When a young, fit man is diagnosed with pulmonary emboli, it is a matter of concern, according to Dr John O'Brien, a pulmonologist from the South African Thoracic Society. “If it is a result of abnormal inherited clotting, he (Spies) would have to be treated for life with anticoagulants and as a result could no longer play rugby”.
O'Brien says that if, after three months, treatment has been successful, Spies could discontinue the treatment. Medical tests would then determine whether he has abnormal inherited clotting. If not, he could continue to play rugby.
O'Brien emphasises that he would have to examine Spies to make an accurate diagnosis, and that he's just commenting on reports put out by SA Rugby.
(Leandra Engelbrecht, Health24, August 2007)
Springbok’s blood clot rare