I received a bi-lateral lung transplant towards the end of 2018.
2. What was life like before the transplant? How did you spend your days?
Sedentary and anti-social! When I was younger, even in high school, I still did drama, netball and went to the gym. I would say after the age of 19 things just went downhill very quickly. I avoided going anywhere or attending anything outside of my studies or experiential learning (working part-time) while studying. I would spend my off days watching series, reading and sleeping. If I were to go out, I would just sit down the whole evening. I felt very restricted and bored. If I did decide to be bold and attend a braai or dance at a party, I would regret it so badly the next day. I would be angry at myself, because I would lose a day in my life due to feeling so sick and tired. I wasn’t able to do anything except rest!
3. Describe the emotions experienced when you received “The Call” for your transplant?
I was still at work at 4pm in the afternoon when the call came. I remember my doctor asking me if I can go pack a bag so long. He would phone me back at about 7-9 pm with final confirmation. My response was “No, I still need to work until 5pm?” Other than that, just tears and disbelief. I didn’t know why God decided that it was my specific day and if I really was ready for this big risk. Was life really going to be better afterwards? And what would “better” be… and at what price? But I think my faith in God and my Dr’s advice was just bigger than any uncertainty.
4. What is life like now, after the transplant?
Liberating! Something actually worth getting out of bed for… effortless! Having no breathless, mucus-filled coughing fits still blows my mind. Doing NO nebuliser treatments and being able to get up 45 mins later in the morning, and just flop into bed at night to sleep… what is this life?? Being able to get ready to go somewhere in 30 mins! I always knew I had it in me 😊 But the bestest of the best now is to put on trainers and to hike up a mountain or run a 5 km fun run with whoever I want to. And of course meeting new people and transplant recipients. Bonding and securing life-long friendships with people having the same struggles and stories. Or those that really shower you with their unconditional love and support during the transplant process. Not bailing on me or leaving my side once. Life is just real and rewarding now.
5. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
Keep your body and mind strong and conditioned. All day every day. Going into transplant with a strong will to survive and get out on the other side successfully is literally everything. The moment your mind gives up your body will follow, not the other way around, Continue with your meds, chest physio, rehabilitation and weight-management. The stronger your body is, the quicker you will be able to start getting back into life and adjust to your new body, plus getting those beauties up and about, breathing freely.
6. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
People are uneducated and oblivious! Someone actually told me that they don’t want to be an organ donor, because when he’s in a life-threatening situation, doctors would rather let HIM die to be able to use his organs! Lots of people I encounter didn’t even know you could donate organs and tissue.
7. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?