The following article appeared in People magazine on May 26, 2006. With a readership of 46.6 million people, People has the largest audience of any American magazine.
I Stared Death In the Face … And Survived
Isaac Lakhi was involved in a horrendous collision that was to reshape the course of his life forever. Whereas most people would have easily thrown in the towel. Lakhi elected to treat adversity as an opportunity
“I was 22 years old and had the world in the palm of my hand. I owned a detergent manufacturing business which was doing very well for itself, was happily married, and had big dreams of one day becoming the CEO of a bank and insurance company. I felt invincible. I wasn’t. While returning home from Durban on the N3 freeway, one of the wheels of my almost brand-new car came loose. Witnesses said the car spun out of control and rolled several times, before coming to a standstill. Neither of the airbags deployed and my head hit the windscreen. I was airlifted to Milpark Hospital where I spent three weeks in ICU in a coma induced state. Doctors told my wife I probably wouldn’t make it and even if I did, I would have massive brain damage, loss of sight and possible paralysis. But while sedated, my understrength and resilience took over and I pulled though.
After several weeks, I was released from hospital and able to go home but was totally incapacitated and reducing to a ‘zombie-like’ state. I had to learn how to do things all over again – things like walking, speaking, holding a fork while eating, fastening my shoelaces and closing my shirt buttons. I couldn’t even go to the toilet without assistance. Fed up with my state and using my frustration to motivate me, I started studying towards a degree in banking, and completed a qualification in insurance. I was voted the runner-up Young Banker for 2005 and am a Young Insurer finalist. I am also pursuing my honours degree in Law. Despite problems I experience with things like balance, I went on to earn an international diploma in ballroom dancing. Even though I put on lots of weight following the heavy medication that I was on, I successfully completed the Old Mutual Two Oceans half marathon in 2004. I also hold certificates in golf after professional coaching, even though my eyesight is damaged. Although I was unable to have a baby naturally, my wife and I are also now proud parents of an adopted baby who is 20 months old.
My belief in the phrase ‘behind every successful man is a woman’ is mirrored by the fact that I have dedicated my success to my wife, who has stood by me and worked tirelessly in getting me to where I am today. I believe opportunity emanates from adversity. I interpret my accident as an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the world and plan to continue doing just that.’’