Tanya Bothma was the first person to receive a bi-lateral lung transplant at Groote Schuur hospital! This also marked the start of patients without medical aid now being able to have access to lung transplant. She shared her story with us.
“I had a number of childhood respiratory problems including Meconium aspiration as a neonate, multiple severe viral infections that left me with severe airflow limitation and chronic lung disease, the narrowing of my airways was permanent and couldn’t be reversed by medication. Diagnosed with Bronchiolitis Obliterans, I was left with 14 percent lung capacity. I was never able to do any sports or take part in any activities at school, Hospital became my second home. My Doctor became my “other dad “!
As puberty hit things just became worse. My parents took me out of school at about STD 7 (grade 9), and I started home schooling till my matric year, when they felt I needed to go back to school as I needed some more social interaction. This is where I met my amazing husband, Schalk. His cousin was studying with me. Obviously being sickly I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever find a boyfriend. This man was definitely sent from above. Today we have been together 22 yrs. and married 18 years. He, my parents, brother and sister have been through all the ups and downs with me. Without them I would not have got as far as I have today
We got married in 2002 and never thought we would ever have kids and 6 years later we had a beautiful baby girl, Daniella. What a pregnancy. I was admitted at 26 weeks and lay on oxygen most of the time till we had her at 33 weeks. She was a miracle.
From there things started getting worse. I was hospitalized more often and that’s when my amazing Pulmonologist at the time approached us. He asked if we had ever thought of a double lung transplant and we should really consider it. This is when we heard about two local doctors and how they have just come back from overseas. They had been in Sydney and other places and were now back and starting the Lung Transplant unit at Groote Schuur!
I received my bilateral lung transplant in December 2017 at Groote Schuur. The operation was the first bilateral lung transplant to be carried out of a state hospital in Africa. An absolute miracle and I feel like I can conquer the world! Obviously I just stay away from anyone that’s sick, rejection is a fear but something I try not to think about.
Waking up and taking a deep breath is the most liberating thing ever. I now have a lung capacity of 83 percent and am able to do things which were only a dream before. I am able to be a mom to my little girl, who is now 11 years old. I was never able to walk with her to the shops, take her to school, do the little things that other moms do, like fetch her from hockey or watch a hockey game. I am now able to do all this and so much more. Those little things that others take for granted. I thank God every day!
I also lost my uncle and brother (who was an organ/tissue donor) in the same year as my transplant and know being a donor is a gift to one and at the same time tremendous pain for another. So, for this reason I live life to the fullest and if I can do something today I will. Every day is a new day, be thankful, smile and be happy. You only have today, so make the most of it!
I’m here today because of my hero/donor. I thank that person every day! I am very committed and will try and use every opportunity to give back, this is my passion as well as create awareness around organ and tissue donation. It is very satisfying, life is just so rewarding.”