Maria Combrink’s Story

When Maria was referred to us by a UK based prosthetic company in 2015, this bubbly, extraordinary lady not only had an interesting story to tell but the moment she walked into my Practice, she lit it up with her sunshine personality and her flamboyant sense of humor.

In 2011 Maria slipped and fell from a height, crushing the bridge of her right foot. Her accident led to numerous operations and constant pain  ̶  nine operations in two years. Subsequent to the procedures, extreme discomfort formed part of her everyday life; mostly three years of hell, she recalls. Maria says the most terrible part of this period was that she became a different person – not a likable person at all, which is difficult to grasp now when I look at the chirpy, confident and very relaxed Maria.

“Being in constant pain and discomfort affects everything about you and obviously those who are the closest to you”, she says.

After three years of doctor’s attempts to save her foot, she opted for an amputation below the knee. The quality of life with a prosthesis seemed like a better option than not being able to do the things she loved.

When Maria set foot in our practice in 2015 she knew exactly what she wanted from her prosthesis. Her list of sporting achievements prior to her accident is astonishing. She had many goals and an eagerness to accomplish them.

Soon after we fitted Maria with a custom made silicone liner and carbon-fiber prosthetic socket she resumed her pre-trauma active lifestyle. Compared to how her life has been for the first three years after the accident, her quality of life is almost one hundred percent restored. She tried her hand at rowing  ̶  not paddling  ̶  and did indoor rowing as well as discus throw and shot put. She also participated at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London where South Africa was ranked 10th on the overall medals’ list.

Maria also engages in other activities like gym, swimming, underwater hockey, running weightlifting, and Krav Maga (Israeli self-defense and fighting) which suits her adventurous personality 100%.

At one stage Maria came to see me when the valve of her prosthesis was broken. She explained to me that it got stuck when she was climbing a tree. “Climbing a tree?” I asked her jokingly – “Now why would you want to do that?”

She merely answered me: “Why wouldn’t I. I can do it, so I did…”

This Geologist by profession was awarded the DISABLED SPORTS WOMAN OF THE YEAR in 2017, a huge reward for the confident yet very humble Maria.  She is an inspiration to all around her and she is absolutely living proof of her favorite motto:

“You can ALWAYS improve; you can ALWAYS Rise above your circumstances.”