Today we have a special feature: #TransplantThursday. Last year Caleigh sent us her story for our #WaitingWednesday feature. Little did she know that days later she would receive her double lung transplant, so we never had the opportunity to feature her pre-transplant story. Read Caleigh’s pre-transplant story at https://tell.org.za/2021/02/03/caleigh-truyens/.
Caleigh Truyens, 30 years old from Centurion is featured in today’s special #TransplantThursday post.
1. Which organ/tissue did you receive, and in what year?
I received a bilateral lung transplant in 2020.
2. How long were you on the waiting list for your organ?
It took a while to get me listed but I was very luckily and was only on the list for a short while, 2 and a half months, 76 days to be exact.
3. What was life like before the transplant? How did you spend your days?
I was basically confined to home, I only left home to go to work and was on oxygen 24/7. I never really made plans to go out as I had to consider how the outing would affect my health and wellbeing in the days to follow. So, most days were spent at home, going through my daily treatments to try and prevent my health from deteriorating faster.
4. Describe the emotions experienced when you were told that you and your donor matches and the lung transplant can take place?
When I first got the call, I honestly thought the transplant coordinator was just phoning to introduce herself because she had just taken over from the previous coordinator. When she said they have a possible match, I was in shock, I didn’t say anything for a while and then she proceeded to tell me all the important things I need to know and that she would confirm the match a little later. And then when she confirmed it, all the emotions came rushing down. I was happy that I was getting a transplant. I was sad that a family had to say goodbye to their loved one. I was sad for all those that never got this opportunity. I was scared knowing there’s a possibility of never waking up again but I had faith that I would. And I felt pure joy for the life I would be able to live after all of this.
5. What is life like now, after the transplant?
Life is so much better. I am still recovering but doing much better than before. As soon as I was able to, I went on holiday to St Francis. I just wanted to see the sea again and I did some things that previously I would not have been able to. Taking a walk with the gentle giants of Knysna Elephant Sanctuary, doing the Mosselbay ziplining, explored parts of the Eastern Cape. Previously I would not have been able to do this, I wouldn’t be able to leave the house without oxygen and these activities would have been too tiring.
6. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t lose hope. I also watched my sister and brother go through this and they were on the waiting list much longer. Keep positive and stay strong, I know it’s not always easy but what’s waiting is worth it.
7. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
I don’t think enough people inform their families of their wishes to be organ donors should they pass away. I have spoken to a lot of people that have said they would like to donate their organs but they have never told their families about it.
8. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?