Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

‘Why me’ changed my life

I’m from a township in Pretoria called Soshanguve. Growing up, there were a lot of gangs and violence. As a boy, you have to choose your friends and your path very carefully. But it’s difficult when you’re young and lack the opportunities.

When I was 12 years old, I contracted pneumonia. I almost passed away. I’ve been an asthmatic all my life, but when I got pneumonia it was really bad. I couldn’t breathe. I was vomiting and struggling with a fever.

When you go through an event like that in your life — when you feel like you’re dying — there’s a lot of things that change. I was constantly struggling with questions like “Why me?” and “Why am I struggling with this?” I think I realised the value of life and what it means to be human. I was only 12 but I grew up very quickly, which was really important.

With the support of my parents, I pulled through after two weeks in hospital. During my time in hospital, I found the medical industry fascinating.

I grasped on to every opportunity that came my way after that. Unlike a lot of my friends at the time, I took education seriously. I ended up going to med school in 2006, finished in 2011 and moved to Jo’burg.

I practise as a doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology today. I’m probably delivering about 20 babies a week. I love it. I really do. It’s one of the most extraordinary feelings you’ll ever have, seeing someone coming out of the ward with a big smile on their face. — Dr Thabang Kgatle, as told to Jacques Coetzee

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Jacques Coetzee
Jacques Coetzee
Jacques Coetzee is the Adamela Data Fellow at the Mail & Guardian, a position funded by the Indigo Trust.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

Covid-19 jab: a ticket of responsibility, not a ticket to...

Being fully vaccinated ‘makes you a little bit more comfortable in your skin’, says 61-year-old Elize Parker

More top stories

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

Clashes in Tunisia after president ousts PM amid Covid protests

Street clashes erupted Monday outside Tunisia's army-barricaded parliament, a day after President Kais Saied ousted the prime minister and suspended the legislature, plunging the young democracy into a constitutional crisis

Five things to watch in the Zambian elections

Zambia will hold presidential elections in three weeks’ time amidst an ongoing economic crisis and rising political tensions. These are the five most important things to look out for in the elections

Covid-19 jab: a ticket of responsibility, not a ticket to...

Being fully vaccinated ‘makes you a little bit more comfortable in your skin’, says 61-year-old Elize Parker
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×