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My life was great – before I had to be listed for a kidney transplant.  I was working as a site agent for a company.  I was living a healthy life, playing soccer and lifting weights and I shared my life with a beautiful wife and four children.  I had tried really hard to be healthy, neither drinking nor smoking.

In 2009 I had a strong headache which saw me starting treatment for high blood pressure. I had no understanding about blood pressure at the time but was forced to take the treatment.  My children were very young and my wife, the children and I lived in one room.  My wife wasn’t working.  Life was difficult and I couldn’t even imagine that there was a possibility that I may die anytime soon or unexpectedly.

Towards the end of 2009 the headache was worse. My employer decided to send me to his doctor.   I was diagnosed with chronic renal failure (both of my kidneys had failed).  When I realised it was a life threatening illness, I lost hope.  No one could give me a reason why this had happened to me and I still do not know what happened.   I lost my job.  I saw myself losing control of everything.  I wasn’t working, had my four children at school and things appeared to be lost.  I was also the breadwinner for my family who lived at my family home in Stanger.  They all depended on me because none of us had mothers or fathers.

After I was diagnosed in 2011, I was referred to Ngwelezane hospital where I started my haemodialysis treatment.  I went every Tuesday and Friday for 3 years.  I know this kept me alive, but it was the worse feeling of my life.  I often felt like giving up, but ended up knowing that God was always with me. It was hard working and having dialysis especially as I was still involved in the construction industry.  I did however keep going until I was referred to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in 2014 where I started a Peritoneal Dialysis which kept me going until April in 2016.

My sister (Nokwethemba Mthethwa), my Aunt (Makhosi Mthethwa) and my other sister (Zamile Mthethwa ) were always offering me their kidneys.  After it was found that my one sister and my aunt were not matches, Nokwethemba begged me for 3 years to let her give me a kidney.  I wouldn’t agree as I really wasn’t sure of how this would affect her.  By 2015 I finally agreed for her to be tested and she was a match.  By now I had an infection in both of my feet and the surgeon’s were not willing to do the transplant until this healed. This took a year to heal.

In April 2016 I received a call from the doctors at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital.  They called us to be admitted for preparations for transplant.  When all this happened my faith had grown a lot to the extent that I knew that God was in control of everything that was happening.  I knew that a miracle was happening in my life.  I did wonder if my sister would change her mind but she never did and she has been a pillar of strength even now.

How do you say thank you to someone for giving you a part of them so you can live? I can believe in the future again because of this incredible gift, the skill of the surgeon’s and ICU staff.  It felt like I was a newborn baby post transplant, doing things I hadn’t been able to for years.  A person who has never had major kidney issues cannot understand the joy when you realise that you are able to urinate again,  you can drink lots of fluids and not end up in trouble, that you actually sweat and can eat things you’ve never eaten in over 6 years.  It was overwhelming…  It was all because of the love of my golden Sisi.

I am now 2 years post transplant. I am enjoying life again and I have new dreams and a new approach to life. This experience has caused me to become very involved in both my community and church. I know have the opportunity to not only preach the gospel in church but I also have the opportunity to raise awareness about organ donation in my community. This gives me the opportunity to teach people about what kidney failure is and the importance of donating organs and tissues and saving lives. I am able to share that I wouldn’t be where I am if my sister did not take it upon herself to donate a kidney and save my life.

Today I am able to touch people’s lives because of an organ donated by my sister and believe I have a responsibility to not let it stop there.  There are many people who are in need of a transplant. Becoming an organ or tissue donor means you may just save someone’s life.  The more people who opt to be organ and tissue donors the more people’s lives can be saved.

I love my family and friends and am extremely grateful for their support, encouragement and prayers over the years.  To my sister, Nokwethemba, I can never repay you except to be the best person I can be. Thank you for this incredible gift.

Please Talk about, Register and Share your decision to be a potential organ and tissue donor.  Be a hero like my sister has been to me.

Joe Mthethwa


  1. Francie

    Wow Joe you are amazing!! Well done for getting back to life and living it to your fullest – I had a transplant on 2002 but have now been on dialysis for almost 6 years – thank you for sharing your stories. It always gives people hope #Godisgood

  2. Theunis

    This is awsome you guys!!! Both of you are so brave. And so blessed you are to have a sister and family that loves you so much Joe. Well done!!! Both of you trully are heros.

  3. Samkeh

    Thank u for the testimonial nd u are blessed ngo cc wakho…. Everything is possible with God

  4. Samukeliswe

    I am from Nkobongo nd I used see Joe cuz his relative are my neighbors… He neva lost hope,he alway smile when we see him. Siyabonga cc Nokwethemba we need more brothers nd sisters lyk u. Frm Samkeh gumede


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