'I'm a walking miracle, thanks medic': Paramedic who saved patient invited to his wedding

From left: EMS paramedic Elrico James stands next to bride Mevina Dilgee (née Louw), groom and former patient Nolan Dilgee and Lisa James, who is Elrico’s wife. Picture: Supplied

From left: EMS paramedic Elrico James stands next to bride Mevina Dilgee (née Louw), groom and former patient Nolan Dilgee and Lisa James, who is Elrico’s wife. Picture: Supplied

Published May 18, 2024


Cape Town – He was on the brink of death after being shot five times. Then the hand of God and the quick response of an EMS paramedic saved him. Now that same paramedic was present when he married the love of his life.

Nolan Dilgee, 35, formerly from Mitchells Plain, who now lives in Kraaifontein, said it was fate and a miracle that brought him and EMS paramedic Elrico James, 51, together.

Dilgee was shot five times on the night of the Rugby World Cup on October 23 last year.

James had to make the decision to either respond to an emergency call in Beacon Valley or Tafelsig.

Nolan Dilgee (pictured recovering from the shooting) invited paramedic Elrico James to his wedding for saving his life. He is also grateful to the medical team at Groote Schuur Hospital. Picture: Supplied

James, who is stationed at the Southern Division of the Western Cape’s Emergency Medical Services (EMs), still recalls the night he received the call:

“The call was either to go to Tafelsig or Beacon Valley and I chose Beacon Valley. When I arrived at the scene there was a man who had multiple gunshot wounds and we placed him onto the stretcher.

“The police said they were still shooting in the area and there had been a gang fight. I put on an oxygen line and made sure he was stable and we proceeded to the Mitchells Plain District Hospital where he was seen to immediately… He was transferred to Groote Schuur Hospital after that.

“It is not my duty to check up on a patient, but one of the family members reached out to me while he was in ICU. He could not speak or walk.”

Today, Dilgee is a walking miracle who has surprised his family and medical team with his miraculous recovery after being shot in the mouth, stomach, and limbs.

He underwent open head surgery and managed to walk out of the hospital on the same day as the procedure.

Nolan Dilgee proposes to his fiancée, Melvina Louw, now Dilgee. Picture: Supplied

In a gesture of gratitude, Dilgee invited James and his wife to his wedding on Saturday, May 11.

Dilgee, who was engaged to his fiancée Melvina Louw, a midwife working in Saudi Arabia, had been enjoying the rugby final when tragedy struck as bullets came through his door.

To this day, Dilgee said he does not know what the motive was behind the shooting as he was not a gang member and had worked in the area of a labour recruiting company.

“I had my TV outside and speakers and my friends and I were braaing when one of them said a man is calling me by the gate.

“The gate has a shade cloth over it, so it is dark. He asked if I was interested in purchasing a cellphone and I was on the inside and he was on the outside.

“The moment I just went deaf, I could not hear anything and I was not aware that I had been shot in the mouth and other parts of my body.

“I told my friends that I am okay, I just want to be left alone and I went and used the toilet.

“I also said I wanted to lay down and they told me I cannot because I am shot. The next moment the police are at the bathroom door and my son rushed in and the paramedics.”

Dilgee spent two months in hospital in what he described as a miracle and a testimony to his life.

“The doctors and medical team was astounded at my recovery,” he added.

“I had been shot in the mouth and there was some nerve damage and they had to do open head surgery at a later stage and I asked to be discharged the same day as I was feeling good.”

He commended James for his good work and knew he had to thank him personally.

“I walked out of the hospital and I can tell you that is the hand of God. It was God who had sent Elrico to me to save my life and to the medical team at Groote Schuur Hospital.

“Elrico chose to come to Beacon Valley, if he did not I would have bled out and died.

“I had to make contact with him to say thank you for what he had done for me. These people risk their lives daily to save patients' lives.”

Dilgee’s wife, Melvina, said as she works in the health profession, it was a first for her to witness the humanity between the two men.

“And yes he (paramedic) was a guest at our wedding. I say this is very rare where patients come back and say thank you, it is something to boost our health workers,” she said.

James said he and Dilgee immediately bonded after the first conversation.

“We became acquaintances and friends and liked one another’s conversations.”

The Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness Emergency Medical Services (EMS) said the gratitude was welcomed.

“We are always grateful when receiving heartfelt compliments, like this one in question, from the community in which our staff serve.

“The appreciation is a testament to the dedication and life-saving service our EMS staff provides.”