The 2014 FIFA World Cup reaches its zenith this weekend with the final rapidly approaching. I just returned from a wonderful time in Brazil myself (more about that later). Sadly, the host team didn’t make it to the final, and, out of respect to my Brazilian colleagues, I won’t mention the score.
Brazilian defender Thiago Silva was notably missing from his country’s last game (as a result of suspension), but he is no stranger to being on the sidelines. Silva has had an oustanding international career, starting in his native Brazil, but moving to FC Porto in Portugal for a spell in a big money transfer. During this time, it appears he developed tuberculosis, which wasn’t diagnosed by the doctors in Portugal. In fact, it was only when he went to Dynamo Moscow that the disease was diagnosed, and he received treatment.
As with many TB patients, Silva’s treatment was lengthy. Because of the severity of his disease, he spent six months in hospital, which lead him to consider retiring from football. Fortunately he did make a full recovery and is back playing the “beautiful game” at the highest level once more. As the man said himself: “I’ve overcome tuberculosis, I can overcome criticism.”
We know that TB can affect anybody, including world-class athletes like Silva, and one of the problems can be that it remains undiagnosed as happened to Silva. The symptoms of TB are often missed in countries where the disease is not common or mistaken for other diseases.
We hope that one day improved diagnostics can prevent others having stories like Silva’s and ensure TB patients get the treatment they need rapidly.