Young Matie student dies

Franken van Wyk (22) a third year BCom law student at Stellenbosch University (SU) has died suddenly while out jogging with two friends, Johan Krige en Cornè Schoeman.

Franken van Wyk

Franken and his friends were on holiday on a farm on the banks of the Buffeljagsrivier in the Swellendam area. They went jogging at about 12:00 on a farm road and after about two kilometres met friends from Stellenbosch who were coming to join them on the farm. Franken suddenly collapsed and died at the scene. He presumably died of heart failure.

Franken, a former Paul Rooser, underwent open-heart surgery just before his 16th birthday in 2005 after it was discovered that his aortic valve had calcified. This premature calcification was probably caused by an infection het got while participating in sports while he had a cold.

Because of his young age and active lifestyle it was then decided to replace his heart valve with his own pulmonary valve. His pulmonary valve was then replaced with a donor pulmonary valve from a young man who died in a motorcycle accident.

This type of operation, known as the Ross procedure, is not common in South Africa and a  former South African heart surgeon, Dr Connie Botha, who practised in Switzerland, successfully performed the operation with the team of Dr Susan Vosloo of the Christiaan Barnard Hospital in Cape Town.

Although Franken limited contact sports like rugby, he actively participated in touch rugby, tennis, cricket, soccer and also played golf for Paul Roos’s first team. He also regularly jogged to stay fit.

Franken was popular and had  a bige circle of friends. He had a passion and compassion for the circumstances of his fellow man and those who were underprivileged. He would have finished his BCom degree at the end of this year and would have continued with his LLB degree.

A memorial service was held on Saturday in Stellenbosch. He was laid to rest on the family farm in the Buffelsjagsrivier-valley, near Swellendam.

Franken is survived by his father, Professor Hannes van Wyk (of the Department of Botany & Zoology), his mother, Irna van Wyk (former social worker and owner of Stellenbosch Blinds) and his older brother, Jos van Wyk (winemaker).