Organ Donation is a conversation, and we want to #TellYourStory. This week we feature the story of Michelle Chiappini from Thornhill in Gauteng.
1. Which organ/tissue did you receive, and in what year?
I received a liver in 2018.
2. What was life like before the transplant? How did you spend your days?
Life before transplant was no life at all. I spent my days sleeping, missing out on so many things happening around me, and I was in hospital. It was very depressing,I was crying a lot and I was also feeling embarrassed and didn’t want people to see me in that way. I felt guilty for being a burden on my family.
3. Describe the emotions experienced when you received “The Call” for your transplant.
I received a call and went to hospital, but I was told I was the backup patient. After a long wait of being really anxious and scared, I did not receive the transplant and went home. A week later I received another call, so with an almost casual attitude I went to hospital and sent my family home to sleep, as I didn’t believe it was going to happen. When the anesthesiologist came to me and said “it’s time” I was in complete shock. He said he’d call my family and that I didn’t have to worry about anything, so I just relaxed and said to God, “It’s in your hands.” I don’t remember anything after that.
4. What is life like now, after the transplant?
After 12 days in hospital I came home. Every day I felt better and better. I was awake in the day and sleeping at night. My colour changed, my skin felt glowing. The energy I have after healing is the same as I had 3 years ago. I’m back! I found a job three days a week and I believe God was just supporting me with every step. I haven’t worked in three years so I’m very positive and happy. I have learnt that you need to give everything over to God. I did a terrible job managing my own life so now God is leading the way.
5. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
Join a couple of Facebook organ or liver transplant support groups. I only joined after my transplant because I didn’t know about them, but I wish I had joined before. You will get inspired and the best feeling is knowing you are not alone. Hang in there, if you think positive thoughts you can surround yourself with positive energy. Always count your blessings, because we still have so much to be thankful for. When I thought my problems were so huge, I saw babies needing liver transplants and their moms crying and donating to their children. That humbled me.
6. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
I have shared every Facebook organ donation post to my friends and it gets likes. Do they ever repost with their friends? No. It frustrates me. It’s like they’re thinking “Shame, that will never happen to me”. Truthfully, before I got sick, I never gave organ donation a thought and I was never encouraged to donate.
7. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?
For anyone interested in joining our online support group for patients, follow the below link, and remember to answer the required questions!