Jacques de Vos, a young doctor from Cape Town who has suffered much injustice because of his pro-life views, is in London awaiting surgery next week for a degenerative venous condition that causes him great pain and severely limits his mobility.
He told Gateway News in an interview from a hotel where he is under strict Covid-19 quarantine pending his operation next Thursday that he is deeply grateful to God and to caring people who have contributed to a fund towards the high cost of his potentially lifechanging surgery that was started by a grateful former patient.
In recent years he has undergone two unsuccessful operations in South Africa for the condition he has had for more than a decade which causes him to suffer extensive pain and makes it a struggle to perform everyday tasks. He relies on a wheelchair to get around because it is a struggle to walk or stand for any significant amount of time.
He said he travelled all the way to London because the British doctor who performed his last operation said he believed it would be successful in London where they had access to specialised expertise and technology.
During his operation next Thursday the medical team will attempt to correct a lesion in his veins that causes a circulation problem, that is responsible for his disabling symptoms.
“The operation could be really life altering. Any improvement to my quality of life now will be so encouraging,” he said.
Jacques said the pain and suffering he experienced as a result of his venous condition gave him empathy for others who suffer from health problems and inspired him to study medicine.
It was tough to complete his medical training as his own physical condition was deteriorating. In July 2017 at the end of his medical internship at 2 Military Hospital, Cape Town, he was suspended and charged with unprofessional conduct for allegedly advising a pregnant woman who wanted an abortion that her unborn baby was a human being.
The Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) repeatedly delayed his hearing by applying for postponements, and unilaterally withdrawing charges against him only to reinstate them later. In September last year the charges against him were dropped again. But Jacques, who has pleaded not guilty and is ready to state his case, with the backing of expert witnesses in human anatomy and psychiatry, believes he is entitled to an acquittal and his lawyers have filed an application for his hearing to be finalised. His legal team hope the High Court will hear the application, which is being opposed by the HPCSA, in June or July.
Throughout his ordeal his legal team and medical experts secured by Doctors For Life International have represented him for free and are continuing to do so. A fund has been started to raise money for direct costs, such as travel, linked with the upcoming hearing.
To date Jacques’ internship has not been signed off, meaning his medical career has been put on hold since July 2017.
“I can’t believe its taken 4 years since I finished my internship and there is still not resolution. It angers me beyond belief. I studied for four years and this injustice is lasting as long as my studies,” he said.
Asked about his future career plans, he said: “I will always be vulnerable to a recurrence of my venous condition. So it wouldn’t be wise for me to become a surgeon who stands for hours operating. So, I will have to go into a very specific area of medicine.
Today — Thursday May 20 — is Jacques’s 34th birthday. He is spending it alone in a quarantine hotel room in London which he is not allowed to leave.
“Luckily with Internet I can do long whatsapp calls and watch endless things online. I don’t know what I would have done without that,” he said.
“My church has been a great help. Several people there have either family or friends here [in London] and they arranged for me to have contact with them in case I have an emergency or something and so I have a place to stay after my operation.,” he said.
Jacques has to remain in England for six weeks after his operation.
Asked what the Lord was highlighting to him in this time, he said: “Just gratitude for the sheer amount of people who have come to my support — that have given financially, given their time and encouraged me and prayed for me.
“It is obviously bad to suffer with something as serious as the health condition that I have. But the silver lining is that you see God’s people really showing that true, genuine love and its just so encouraging and very heart warming. You might not otherwise discover this if don’t have a tragedy in your life.”