On #TransplantTuesday we feature the story of Theresa Bester, 51 years old, from Durbanville, Cape Town. Her best friend shared her spare.
1. Which organ/tissue did you receive, and in what year?
I received a kidney transplant in 2017.
2. How long were you on the waiting list for your organ?
I never went on a waiting list, a friend of mine offered to be a living donor and after all the tests were completed; she decided not to continue with the donation. Another friend stepped forward, we were a better match than the first living donor. It seems that the transplant was just meant to be…
3. What was life like before the transplant? How did you spend your days?
I was working full time, we run our own business, so my hours were flexible. I started dialysis at 5:30 in the morning and went to work, I tried to ensure that my dialysis and renal failure not change my life too much.
I think the worst part of hemo-dialysis is that you cannot really go on holiday. We did go on a trip with friends to Nampo, but had to plan the whole trip around my dialysis.
A really big drawback for me was when my daughter had her first baby, she lives on the Westcoast and the nearest dialysis centre is two hours’ drive away. I was not able to assist her after the birth and experience being a grandma to the full extend.
4. Describe the emotions experienced while waiting for your transplant?
I was very calm before and during the whole work-up process as I knew if the one did not work out, I had other friends that were willing to get tested to see if they would be a match. My husband and my siblings were not in a position to get tested due to their own health issues.
5. What is life like now, after the transplant?
Firstly, you have a lot more time on your hands, I sometimes wonder how I managed to fit everything that had to be done in with dialysis. I was able to have the whole grandma experience with my second grandchild and love the visit them for more than only the weekend.
6. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
I sometimes feel ashamed and yet so thankful that everything went so well with my transplant. My no nonsense- positive attitude have helped me to get the best out of life. I believe if your mind set is correct, you’re 90% there. That also make it easy for the loved ones to cope with your illness.
7. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
I think that people are ignorant and not educated about organ failure and transplants. It is not really such a big deal to be a donor and I think it is a very special thing to be able to give somebody a better life.
8. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?