As the final whistle blew signalling the end of the soccer game between South Africa and France on Tuesday evening a surgeon inserted the final suture in a once severed limb in an operating theatre in Durban.
The tension in the theatre visibly eased. Finally the gruelling nine-hour procedure, during which a team of surgeons meticulously reattached a man's spontaneously amputated arm, was successfully completed.
Three days after the procedure 37-year old Alfred Henery is described as being in a serious yet stable condition at Netcare's St Augustine's hospital. Augusta Dorning, General Manager of the hospital attributes the successful reattachment procedure to the quick response by the Netcare 911 emergency crew and the team of dedicated healthcare professionals at the hospital who worked tirelessly for nine hours to reattach the severed arm. "The first 48 hours were crucial," Dorning said. "Right now the patient is awake, comfortable and in good spirits. His medical team will continue monitoring his progress before making a more definitive evaluation of his condition."
Alfred's fiancée Edith-Ann has been by his side since the accident. She explains that before Alfred left for work that morning he took some chicken out for dinner and how it was the very first thing he mentioned when he woke up in hospital. When he left the house that morning Alfred was not to know that he would spend his day in an operating theatre and that he would not be eating chicken that night or get to see the heroic performance of Bafana Bafana in Bloemfontein. Instead he had become the leading man in a real-life drama that would change his life forever.
Yesterday Alfred, a yard supervisor, recounted the traumatic scene that played itself out at work on the fateful day when he stuck his hand into a conveyer belt to clean it. From his hospital bed he explained how when he reached into the mixer his clothing was caught in the machine. Within a split second his arm was mangled and spontaneously amputated at the elbow. Initially he did not realise that the arm was severed. That only dawned upon him as he looked down and saw the severely damaged limb lying at his feet.