Transplant Stories

Coreen Walstra

By 2022-10-05 No Comments

We’re celebrating Coreen’s one year liver transplant anniversary, the transplant process was not always smooth sailing and thank goodness she’s kept her sense of humour throughout. Coreen is part of the management team of  TELL and serves as the Project Manager.

1. Which organ did you receive, and in what year?
I had a living liver organ transplant on the 5 October 2021.

2. How long were you on the waiting list for your organ?
I was on the waiting list for two years.

3. What was life like before the transplant? How did you spend your days?
Initially it wasn’t a problem, and later in my life towards my late 20s I started to feel the effects of my liver failure. I managed to still get through work and go about my day to day activities, but then my number of hospital visits increased and I was getting numerous infections rapidly overnight and would spend at least a week in hospital for each stay. I would get incredibly fatigued and need to rest a lot, I would go to work and then go home to rest. It became incredibly tough the closer I got to transplant because I could feel how much my body was struggling and how my liver deteriorating.

4. Describe the emotions experienced when you were told your donor is a match?
I was beyond excited when I found out because I knew I needed the transplant, but when reality sunk in I got quite scared and nervous. I was worried about the possibility of death and wondered how I would manage. I second-guessed the thought of transplant. In the same breath, I was so appreciative of what my donor was doing for me and the extent and lengths he had gone to to make this all happen for me.

5. What is life like now, after the transplant?
It’s amazing! It’s like chalk and cheese. There is so much now that I look back on that I didn’t realise were liver failure signs, and now that I have a healthy liver I can do so much more again, I can get through a normal day without feeling fatigued and drained. I have a lot more energy, and I am so grateful for every day that I wake up and a new day is in store for me.

6. What advice would you give patients on the waiting list?
Focus on yourself and listen to your body. Don’t try to push yourself when you need to rest. Your body knows best. Use your support system, and spend time with those you love and care about, they will play a huge fundamental role in both your waiting and your recovery.

7. Why do you think there is a shortage of donors in South Africa?
I think there is a misunderstanding about how one can be an organ donor in South Africa, and people assume that our organ donor system is similar to other countries. It’s so important to have the conversation with your family and friends, and make it known that you an organ donor. You have amazing organs, regardless of what you may have done in your lifetime. You can gift them to someone else when you pass away and give them the opportunity to live a healthy life.

8. If you could describe transplant in one word, what would it be?