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As we approached 3 months post transplant for Matthew, I opened Facebook recently to be reminded of this post that I had written a year ago:

“When I opened my eyes this morning, I just knew that today was going to be a battle and that I needed to win it. A battle not to be consumed with worry, a battle not to let emotions get the better of me, a battle to focus on what needed to be done and to enjoy it, but most of all a battle to remain positive. I don’t have many days like today, so, as I close my eyes tonight, I am thankful for another day. This was a day where we joked and teased, a day of positive learning, of setting goals and making plans, all despite the tears in my heart.

Tomorrow brings with it a new opportunity to open my eyes, count my blessings, share love and embrace the life we have.”

This was written at a time when the outlook for Matthew was not good at all. We had just seen his doctors and once again received the news that only a transplant had the possibility of saving his life. We knew the bleak statistics of transplants in South Africa and the very specific requirements needed in Matthews’s case; therefore the chances of there ever being a donor for him were so small it was not measurable. As a result my emotions were running high, although under the surface.

I can now look back on this and say with immense gratitude that the Gift of LIFE Matthew received from his special angel donor has truly changed his life.

Matthew came home from hospital after his transplant and life as we knew it changed radically. Of course, he still had to go through the recovery period where he has been in “isolation” and full recovery doesn’t happen overnight. As a family we have had to learn to be exceptionally germ phobic – washing our hands repeatedly and all that goes with this. During this initial recovery period whilst Matthew was still weak he spent a lot of time lying in his room. He had been blessed with a TV and Xbox for his room so I even had a go at playing some games. This definitely wasn’t my forte. We also sat for hours chatting endlessly about whatever he wanted to. I tried to answer some of his tough questions, talked about his feelings regarding the surgery, talked about his donor and donor family and finally just marvelled at how well he was doing.

Just because Matthew was in recovery, didn’t mean he wasn’t going to do rehab! He had been home for less than a week when he started Biokinetics with Justin Bircher and Damon Bailey. This team had been helping Matthew keep strong for years, when he was unable to do cardiac exercise anymore. They immediately began building him up again with great determination and care. It wasn’t long before we added a physiotherapist, Dawn Nunes, to the mix for all those aches and pains and nerve issues.

We are so grateful to everyone who have visited, helped, encouraged, challenged and pushed Matthew along this new path he is on. With all this training input, Matthew has been getting his strength back and his movement in his challenged leg has improved to about forty percent. In fact, he is now riding a stationary bicycle for 35 minutes twice a day. In typical Matthew fashion, he wasn’t going to take “small steps” – his next goal is to ride the 35 km Amashova in honour of his donor and for Hero777 on 21 October 2018. He hopes this will help raise awareness for Organ and Tissue donation in South Africa and the special people who are a part of the process.

Matthew we are proud of you!

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