Alice Vosloo, cofounder and CFO of TELL is our #TransplantTuesday feature today. Alice, 37 from Jo’burg shares her story of having two bilateral lung transplants.
1. Which organ did you receive, and in what year?
Bi-lateral lung transplant in 2008 and again in 2017.
2. How long were you on the waiting list for your organ?
8 months the first time, and about a year the second time.
3. What was life like before the transplant? How did you spend your days?
Before my first transplant, my days consisted mostly of keeping myself alive. Especially in the 2 years leading up to that first transplant. I had to nebulise at least 3 different medications twice, and often 3 times a day, do physio to clear out my lungs, made sure I ate a massive amount of calories daily, and do what little exercise I could manage. I also had to do 3 weeks of IV antibiotics fairly often, to try and fight very resistant bacteria. I couldn’t work at all. I was on oxygen 24/7. Doing the simplest task was a massive battle with very low lung function.
4. Describe the emotions experienced when you received “The Call” for your transplant?
It felt like my heart was going to explode. I was so excited and nervous at the same time. With my first transplant I had to fly up from PE as well, which made the stress and anxiety that much worse! But I knew this was my chance!
5. What is life like now, after the transplant?
COMPLETELY different. Taking pills twice a day takes up basically no time, compared to everything I had to do before. I can go on holidays without having to pack heavy oxygen concentrators and nebulisers. I don’t even need electricity 24/7 anymore! I have so much more energy, I can exercise properly. I can work, I feel almost like a normal person now I think!
6. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
Keep as fit and strong as possible! It made a massive difference to my recovery. Keep yourself healthy. When you get the call for transplant you have to be in a good place health wise (apart from the obvious organ failure). Keep your mind busy so that you don’t focus on the wait the whole time. I.e. get a new hobby, see friends, get out of the house if you can. Make a list of things you want to do or places you want to go once you’ve had your transplant!
7. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
People are ignorant and listen to whatever myths they hear. They think it’s a subject that will never affect them personally. People don’t like thinking about death. Education about organ donation is inadequate in SA.
8. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?