Organ Donation is a conversation, and we want to #TellYourStory. Today we feature the story of JP Cawood who lives at the Sun City Resort in the North West Province.
1. Which organ/tissue did you receive, and in what year?
I had a Kidney Transplant in 2006 and again in 2012.
2. How long were you on the waiting list for your organ?
I was on the waiting list for 16 years before receiving the first transplant and then another 6 years before receiving my second transplant.
3. What was life like before the transplant? How did you spend your days?
Life before the first transplant was relatively normal and I tried to be like any other teenager, as my body could still function despite the low kidney function. However waiting for the second transplant made my life a whole lot different. I started Peritoneal Dialysis in my first year of University at Stellenbosch and I gradually went downhill – in and out of hospitals with infections before going on Haemodialysis for the last 3 years before my transplant.
I then spent every Monday, Wednesday & Friday on a dialysis machine for four hours at a time. This was rough because I wanted to be like any other young adult, but unfortunately due to dialysis I was restricted. I needed to watch my daily fluid intake and the worst part of all was not being able to swim.
4. Describe the emotions experienced when you received “The Call” for your transplant?
The night that I received the phone call was the best night of my life. It was a Friday night and I had just got back home from a dialysis session, and due to an infection in my Dialysis Catheter I needed to fly to Cape Town on the Monday for an operation to try and get it fixed.
I had a sever fever and was not feeling good at all, but when I heard my mother’s phone ring and the tears in her eyes after she put the phone down I knew exactly what the call was about and completely forgot about the fever as my emotions took over.
5. What is life like now, after the transplant?
Life after the transplant has been only amazing and I now have energy to do anything that I put my mind to. I can now live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment. It has given me the opportunity to travel the world doing what I love, and representing my Country at the same time. I have now competed in two World Transplant Games and come August 2019 I will be competing in my third.
6. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
Never stop believing and always be positive because you never know when that call is going to come. All patients are a massive inspiration and role model to their family and friends because they can see the fight you are fighting and how brave you are.
7. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
I think there is a shortage of donors in SA because people have a misinterpretation about organ donation. Take a kidney transplant for example, you only need one functioning kidney to live a completely normal life. Don’t wait until it happens to you or somebody you know, be an organ donor and you can save lives. And what can be better to save somebody’s life who really needs it? That’s a true hero.
8. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?
Its two words: Life changing.