Updated 25 August 2016

Top athlete Wayde van Niekerk donates 500k to neonatal unit

South African superstar Wayde van Niekerk has donated a half a million rand to the Newborns Groote Schuur Trust.

South African athlete Wayde van Niekerk donated half a million rand to the Newborns Groote Schuur Trust to benefit premature babies on Thursday.

Wayde, who is currently the fourth fastest man in the 400m, was himself born premature at 29 weeks, weighing just over 1kg - a major reason why he wants to give other premature babies a fighting chance.

He describes his mom's experience in the days after his own birth:

“My mom told me that every day when she woke up, she didn’t know whether I was going to be alive or not, so it was easy for me to say, ‘Let’s help out other premature babies’.”

The unit at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town looks after some of the province's smallest citizens. In South Africa, more than eight out of every 100 babies are born prematurely. 

Read: SA breast milk bank saves premature baby

Basic life-saving interventions can dramatically reduce newborn deaths, particularly for preterm babies.

These interventions include:

  • Providing regular checkups for pregnant mothers
  • Ensuring that births take place under the supervision of skilled health workers
  • Helping babies take their first breath
  • Coaching new moms on how to breastfeed
  • Keeping babies warm
  • Ensuring hygienic umbilical cord care

Watch this video to learn more about a newborn's journey in the neonatal unit:

Read more:

Preterm birth an African killer

Preterm birth has lifelong effect

Drinking during pregnancy risks premature birth