Organ Donation is a conversation, and we want to #TellYourStory. Today we feature our first transplant recipient story, the story of Nolundi Seluleko Luthuli from Vanderbijlpark.
1. Which organ/tissue did you receive, and in what year?
I received a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant in 2006. I was 28 at the time and was very close to giving up on my chances of surviving renal failure.
2. How long were you on the waiting list for your organ?
I was on the waiting list for three and a half years which, at the time, felt like forever.
3. Describe the emotions experienced when you received “The Call” for your transplant?
The first time I got the call up I was numb with mixed emotions of joy and disbelief. But before we could leave the house for the airport another call came through and I was told that the organs were not the best match for me and that the doctors had decided against it. That was probably the worst kind of disappointment and I don’t think I will be able to find the right words to describe that disappointment. Fortunately, a month later I was called again and this time I was better prepared emotionally and I was more confident that there would be no turning back this time round.
4. What is life like now, after the transplant?
I must say life after transplant feels like an absolute dream. Compared to the three and a half years on hemodialysis, I can say I am living the best years of my life. I have had no major complications apart from the pathological fracture I suffered in 2017. I have a great team of doctors that ensure I live a normal and productive life. Something I am very grateful for. My perception of the world and what matters is also quite different. Everything I do now is inspired by gratitude to God for giving me this second chance. I have written a book about my journey, which is called The Will to Live – A Way to survive which is basically an expression of my appreciation for this new lease on life.
5. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
The best advice is really to just keep a positive attitude. I was blessed to have a very supportive family structure and close friends that helped me and cheered me up during the bad days. But at the end of the day it was my responsibility to choose to look on the bright side, especially during the long, dark days in hospital. So to patients still on the waiting list I say keep the faith, stay positive and believe that you too will get that call that will change your life forever.
6. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
Lack of awareness is a major problem. In most areas people have never seen a person who has received a transplant. And in some cases they don’t know how to become a donor because not enough information is available on the subject. I believe that more needs to be done at local community level to not only create awareness on organ and tissue donation, but also to encourage people to register as donors.
7. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?
For me transplant = miracle