On #TransplantTuesday we feature the story of Rukeya Gibbs, age 59, from Lansdowne, Cape Town.
1. Which organ/tissue did you receive, and in what year?
Bilateral lung transplant 2018
2. How long were you on the waiting list for your organ?
3. What was life like before the transplant? How did you spend your days?
I was diagnosed with C.O.P.D in 2014 and rather quickly, or so I think, regressed and in 2017 my lung function started dropping quite rapidly, just getting about was a mission, I even needed a chair to shower. I had a lung function of 24% just before my transplant.
4. Describe the emotions experienced when you received “The Call” for your transplant?
It was during Ramadan so I was fasting and when I saw the caller ID, I sat down before answering. I remember thinking that if this is THE CALL then at least I’ve not eaten all day yet. So when Dr. Calligaro said to me ‘do you know why I am calling’ I just very calmly said, yes I think so. But I was so excited!!! I immediately called my kids, took a shower and went to hospital!
5. What is life like now, after the transplant?
I don’t think there are enough words to describe the gratitude I feel for my donor and family. I am eternally grateful. I CAN BREATHE! I think that says it all! I am able to take long walks and play with my grandchildren. I will not complain about the 25kg I’ve gained, but I am slowly starting to lose it now.
6. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
Be patient, I know it’s easy for me to say now, but there is nothing we can really do other than trying to keep as fit as we possibly can with the little breath that we have.
7. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
Lack of exposure.
8. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?
BREATHE (for me)