On #WorldHeartDay we feature the story of Luigi Te Roller, aged 50, from Somerset West.
1. When were you diagnosed with organ failure and which organ are you waiting for?
On the 9 September 2019 I had a massive heart attack and was resuscitated, had all three of my major arteries stented and put on life support for a few weeks in ICU. My cardiologist told me I would need a heart transplant which was a huge and devastating shock for me and my family.
2. How does your current health affect your lifestyle?
I am unable to do the things I took for granted, struggle to walk up the stairs, get out of breath simply walking from my room down the passage, have lost 27kg due to cardiac cachexia so my muscles have atrophied and I have no strength left. I was an avid diver and can no longer dive, I can’t go for walks on the beach with my kids, or play in the pool with them or do any of the normal things I used to do. I get tired very quickly and some days are much worse than others. I had to sell my butchery as I cannot work full time in my condition. I am on 15 tablets daily just to keep me alive.
3. How long have you been on the waiting list?
I was placed on the waiting list in early 2020.
4. What are you most excited for after your transplant?
Being able to do normal things like breathing without effort, having energy and the strength to do things again. Go on a holiday with my family and just live a normal life.
5. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
I think many people don’t even know about organ donation until something happens to them or their loved ones. It’s not really something many people are confronted with. There is also a lot of misinformation and cultural stigma around it.
6. What is the biggest stigma / myth you have heard about organ donation?
Doctors won’t work as hard to save your life if they know you are an organ donor.
You can only donate an organ if you are dead and it will be costly for your family.