Muhammed Bhamjee gives a candid portrayal of what life is like on dialysis for a young man, he is 18 years old from Johannesburg South. Read his story on our #WaitingWednesday feature.
1. When were you diagnosed with organ failure and which organ are you waiting for?
I was diagnosed when I was two weeks old with damaged kidneys and in 2016 my kidneys failed. I also have a rare form of hypertension that causes me to have seizures, which makes dialysis life-critical. I’m urgently waiting for a kidney.
2. How does your current health affect your lifestyle?
Because I have to go for dialysis three times a week and with the seizures, I spent most of the last few years of my life in hospital. I was, therefore, unable to complete matric and I don’t have any friends because nobody wants to be with the guy who is always sick. Everyone my age plays sport and goes out and I want to do those things too but my body and sickness don’t allow me to. I’m a young man now and I want to study and have a relationship, but I can’t because I keep getting sick. I feel helpless and isolated, I never had a normal life. Dialysis is painful and my arms are all bruised from the needles, I feel like I am almost always in pain, if not the dialysis then the seizures and headaches and severe neck pain. I just want a simple normal life without suffering.
3. How long have you been on the waiting list?
Since 2016 but I didn’t get a kidney and I desperately need one.
4. Have you had a transplant before?
I was called up for a deceased kidney transplant a few years ago, but the the kidney was from a three year old child and unfortunately it clotted a few days after the operation and so it wasn’t successful.
5. What are you most excited about after your transplant?
Being able to work and study and play sports. Not having to spend half my week at dialysis and the other half trying to feel better after it. I want to spend time with friends and family and have happiness. Not having to go through the pain and fear of having seizures will be amazing. Having a kidney transplant is the difference between life and death for me. If I do have the transplant then for the first time in my life I will be able to have a life.
6. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
Many people don’t want to donate because of religious and cultural beliefs. I think that people need to see the bigger picture because donating and saving a life is really something that God made possible. It doesn’t harm the donor and it cures someone who is suffering.
7. What is the biggest stigma/myth you have heard about organ donation?
That if you donate a kidney then you will get sick too. But it’s not true, thorough screening is done to ensure that the donor doesn’t get sick, there is no risk in being a donor and it is not true that if you donate then you will get sick.