Corne Linde from Durbanville in the Western Cape has an amazing story, she received her first kidney transplant at 22 and her second kidney transplant at 38 years old. Corne tells her story in our #TransplantThursday feature.
1. Which organ did you receive, and in what year?
I received my first kidney in 1988 from a deceased donor. The kidney lasted for 16 years and was functioning very well enabling me to live a normal life. In 2003 the kidney started to reject and in February 2004 my sister, Santie Terblanche donated her kidney. Our DNA was similar to that of twins according to the hospital that conducted the cross-match tests.
2. How long were you on the waiting list for your organ?
The night before the start of the school term, I was a teacher, I got the call that a suitable donor was found. I was only on the waiting list for about 2 weeks.
3. What was life like before the transplant? How did you spend your days?
I was extremely ill, my eyes were yellow and my body was swollen. It was my first year as a teacher and I was tired the whole time. I could not stand the smell of coffee or meat. The one night after the doctor examined me, I heard him say that he gave me medication that should see me through the night. For the first time, I realised how serious my condition was. I was admitted to Louis Leipold and then transferred to Tygerberg Hospital. The one doctor commented that he has never seen a living patient with such a high creatinine. The first time that I heard my diagnosis was when a professor and his students were standing around my bed and discussing my case. The professor told the students that I’m a very good example of a patient with End-Stage Renal Failure.
4. Describe the emotions experienced when you received “The Call” for your transplant?
After a few weeks in hospital and recovering at home, I got the call. I started to shake and my first thought was I did not want to go back to the hospital. I immediately went to my parents home in Wellington and that was when I developed a sore throat. I knew that they won’t transplant me if I had any infections. My dad went around the neighbourhood and asking everyone for remedies to clear up the sore throat. We left for the hospital and when we arrived my sore throat was gone and that was when I realised that today something big is going to happen.
5. What is life like now, after the transplant?
You cannot describe it to someone who has not been through it. My kidney started to function while on the operation table. When I woke up from the anaesthetic, my brain was so active and I just wanted to talk and connect to everyone. The ICU sister scolded me and said I should calm down, be quiet and sleep. I wanted to shout that I’ve been asleep for 6 months. It is now 17 years later since my second transplant. There is a lot of adjustments that you need to make to your lifestyle and you are very aware of germs and avoid getting sick. I decided that this illness is not going to define me. Yes, you can see my “moonface” and that I’ve been on cortisone for 30 years. The immune-suppressant medication has a lot of side effects, but the benefit of a transplant outweighs this. You are not dependent on dialysis and can function normally. With the pandemic, it feels that I have a target on my back and need to be extra careful.
6. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
It is very difficult as you don’t know how long you will be on the waiting list for a transplant. I was fortunate that I only waited two weeks. Do the best you can do. A transplant is the best solution. Unfortunately there are patients with various other medical conditions such as diabetes and polycystic kidneys (to name a few) that does influence if they receive a transplant.
7. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
Lack of education. The way transplants are portrayed in TV programmes is unrealistic. This causes uncertainty and contributes to myths and misconceptions.
8. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?