DIEP INGEDAGTE: Wayde van Niekerk deep in thought at a briefing at Groote Schuur Hospital on Wednesday. CREDIT: Bertam Malgas
Wayde van Niekerk is making other laaities’ dreams come true.

Yesterday, the Olympic champ’s star power came into play again when a technology company donated a new communications system to Groote Schuur Hospital, which will make it easier for doctors to communicate with moms of sickly premature babies.

T-Systems, in partnership with the Wayde Dreamer Foundation, donated the fancy system to the Newborns Groote Schuur Trust.

As a premature baby himself, the 400m gold medallist identified with the Trust, which become the first beneficiary of his Wayde Dreamer Foundation, an initiative that assists and encourages young South Africans to be the best they can be.

Dr Yaseen Joolay, a neonatologist at Groote Schuur Hospital, says many mothers do not return to the hospital with their babies for follow-up visits because of socio-economic circumstances at home.

This often causes treatable diseases like Retinopathy of Prematurity, to worsen.

Dr Joolay says: “When the premature babies are born, their eyes aren’t fully developed.

“The development of the blood vessels in their retinas can be abnormal, causing the retina to detach from the eye, resulting in permanent blindness.”

He adds: “The new system will reduce the hospital’s loss to follow-up rate. So if we can follow up the patients, using the in and outbound system, then we can prevent the disease from happening.”



HERO: Wayde donated R500k to the cause last year.


The new system will manage patients’ contact information, bookings, appointments, confirmations as well as generate appointment reminders for visits.

Groote Schuur treats 3 200 premature babies annually.

Wayde’s mom, Odessa Swarts, says their journey with the hospital’s Newborn Trust started after they were invited last year.

Wayde weighed about a kilogram when he was born at 29 weeks.

“Just the fact that we could show him what he looked like when he was born at 29 weeks, I think, shocked him because he has never seen tiny babies like those,” says Odessa.

Wayde donated half a million rand to the Newborn Foundation last year through his Wayde Dreamer Foundation.

Speaking at the launch yesterday, he said it was an honour to be able to help others.

“It’s really not about me. It’s the sense that I can help, I have the means to help,” the sprinter says.

“I see everything that I have as a blessing for the Lord. So I rather go on my knees and thank the Lord for the means and blessing that he has given me to bless others.”