Four years ago, doctors gave Kalib Missoe no chance of seeing tomorrow, but now the future looks bright for the 20-year-old who has landed an opportunity to study sports science in China next year.
Kalib has been involved in sports from a young age, and in 2014 he finished in the top 20 in school athletics rankings after breaking records in 200, 400 and 800-metre races at provincial and school level.
His athletic prowess earned him an athletic scholarship to attend Bellville Technical High School and he was also involved with local sporting clubs in Belhar.
Now he will be attending Shengyang Sport University for a sports management degree.
It’s a far cry from April 2015, when Kalib, then 16 and in Grade 9, was involved in a rugby accident at Bellville Technical High School that, he says, nearly ended his young life.
“The coach had to pick a team for a match the next day (Thursday) so we had sort of a trial match on Wednesday,” recalls Kalib.
“During that match, I tackled another player, but then he lost his footing and fell on top of me before the rest of the players also jumped on top of me. When they got the other players off me, I was hurt and was taken off the field, but I felt all right at the time; just my left pinky finger was sore.
There were no paramedics at the game so a teacher checked me out before me and a friend got in a taxi to go to a doctor in Eesterivier. The doctor just gave me something for my finger before I went to my grand mother’s house in Belhar.”
The next day he was limping but decided to go to school because he had a maths test.
“I was attending the school on a sport bursary so I always wanted to make sure that I never missed any tests or assignments.”
He usually started his school day playing touch rugby with his friends in the squad, but this day was different.
“When I started playing, I just felt drowsy, and I fainted. The teachers took me to the sickbay where they checked me out, and I stayed there for the whole day till it was time to go home.”
He went to a doctor again and was given medicine for bronchitis and sinusitis and put off school for three days.
It was on the Sunday, the last day of his “sick leave” that he started vomiting and he lost his vision.
“My mother then rushed me to the Netcare in Kuils River, and after checking me out, they asked my mother if I played sport, and when she said yes, I was taken for a CAT scan.”
The scan revealed he had a ruptured vein in his brain, and he had already suffered two strokes.
Kalib was moved to ICU where he suffered a third stroke while doctors were implanting tubes into his head.
“After the third stroke, the doctors told my mother that she should prepare for my funeral and they wanted permission to pull the plug because I was declared brain dead.”
Kalib says his mother at first refused the doctor’s advice, but then the plug was pulled and family members and a priest prayed over him while he was dying.
“While they were praying, my cousin noticed that my body was shaking at it was like I was waking up from a deep sleep. They then called the doctors who rushed me back into the ICU and they plugged the machines back in me.
The machines showed that I was one percent alive. Afterwards the doctors told my mother that I would be in a vegetable state for the rest of my life, but she said, ‘No, Kalib proved your wrong before and he will do it again’.
So I was moved to the Intercare in Tygervalley where I started occupational therapy, speech therapy and I also started seeing an education therapist.”
After months of therapy, Kalib once again proved doctors wrong and in November 2015, he returned to school.
“When I came back to school, everybody was shocked, but nobody was more surprised than all the doctors who said I would never walk again let alone be alive.
Everybody who saw me wanted to know what it was like when I was declared dead, and I told them it felt like I was in a white room, and I could see the faces of random people that I met in my life and my family members. Then I was able to stand up, and I was going to my right, but a voice called out to me and said I must go left. When I went left, so I woke up.”
Going back to school was hard for Kalib. He was promoted to Grade 10 but ended uo having to repeat that year.
Now in his matric year, Kalib has earned his way to China with the help of Fielde International says they were impressed with Kalib’s efforts to make a better living for himself.
“We have decided to give him the support he needs.”
Kalib now travels to schools across Cape Town, giving motivational talks.