Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi has opened up on his recovery from a burst appendix and damaged bladder in an uncut clip from ‘Chasing the Sun’.
At the start of 2018, Mbonambi was ready to give the season a full go as a new wave of optimism swept over South African rugby following Rassie Erasmus’ arrival as director of rugby and Springbok head coach.
Having been starved of Test opportunities, the then 27-year-old was hungry to prove his worth to earn a Springbok recall.
However, on the eve of the Stormers’ opening Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Jaguares, Mbonambi had to be rushed to hospital after his appendix burst.
Speaking in an uncut clip from the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup documentary, Chasing the Sun, the hooker opened up on his recovery process and his subsequent doubts over his career.
‘It was weird. It was the day before we played the opening game of Super Rugby against the Jaguares at Newlands. It was another fantastic week of training. The day before was also good. But then in the middle of the night on Friday, I just woke up with a sharp pain in my stomach.
‘My wife was asking me what’s wrong. I said, “No, something is wrong.” She drove me to the hospital and we got to the emergency [ward]. I think I blacked out for a couple of seconds. I woke up on a bed and was being rushed to emergency. I woke up the next minute and my appendix is out. Obviously, they just did the small surgery where they take the appendix out.
‘But then apparently, it burst inside. There were some fluids that weren’t supposed to be there around my intestines. I had to go back again, into surgery. That’s when they made the cut into my abdomen and cleaned everything out. In the process, my bladder got damaged. So that was another thing.
‘I wasn’t recovering as I should be. The doctor was worried. My wife was also worried. I got sent to ICU because I wasn’t recovering properly. I think I was there for three days. That’s where I started panicking. I was losing a lot of weight and not functioning properly. I wasn’t feeling all right, I was sweating the whole time.
‘I went through a lot of scans and MRIs and they found out that my bladder was damaged. I think I was in hospital for two weeks. When I got out of ICU, I started contemplating my career. What’s going to happen now, am I ever going to recover? The doctor said I might not be able to play the whole year. My wife was very good for me there. She prayed a lot for me, helped me not to panic, just take it day by day.’
Thankfully, Mbonambi would recover and go on to play a crucial role for club and country over the next two years, memorably scoring a winning try against France and starting in the World Cup final against England.
Photo: EPA/YOAN VALAT