August 2018 – As we look back over the last year it is hard to explain just how significant the changes have been in all our lives. A year ago we were contemplating the future with such trepidation and trying desperately to remain positive and plan ways to make memories. We were planning a big family get together for Christmas and were hoping that we would see in the New Year as a family of four. Each day registered as another gift, something to be grateful for and cherished. Some days were much harder than others and many tears were shed behind closed doors but we made a concerted effort to live positively.
Just months later; one telephone call, shattered the calm and the hope in our hearts exploded. Matthew was about to undergo a life saving heart and bi-lateral lung transplant. What transpired in the days to come was surreal. Now in the months since his transplant we can look back on it with immense gratitude to Matthew’s donor for the gift he was given. This gift has changed his life immeasurably. It has given him the chance to continue to dream, reach milestones he desperately wants to, and make plans for the future.
Forging ahead in his recovery after his heart and bilateral lung transplant in 2017, Matthew now has opportunities he never even thought of. He is able to allow his dreams of playing golf, riding his bike and taking up archery to slowly take shape again. He is able to finish his schooling and plan for his future endeavours and if you ask Matthew how he is he will tell you he is great and improving all the time.
Since coming home after his transplant, Matthew has been working hard with his biokinetists from Justin Bircher and Associates in Hillcrest four days a week and often sees Dawn Anderson Nunes, Physiotherapist at Holdryd and Goodenough once a week. He is determined to slowly get fit, he has after all led a very sedentary life for the last 7 years and as he often says when his muscles are sore, “these muscles do not know what it means to exercise.”
The team of Biokinetist had helped to keep Matthew’s chest strong and in his words “open” prior to transplant and have been a massive motivating force since his transplant. When Matthew jogged down our passage to catch his dad recently, I became chocked up. Who would have dreamed that he would have progressed as quickly as he has? Matthew has been incredibly well in the months since his transplant. His blood results have remained good. We also attribute this to him being determined to do things by the book and the constant care he is taking to remain healthy.
Much of Matthew’s physical recovery can be attributed to his dogged determination, the incredible care of the doctors, the motivation of his transplant coordinator, Cindy and his biokinetist, Justin Bircher, who first laid the seed of Matthew riding in the 35 km Amashova Classic when Matthew was still recovering in hospital. This determination is followed through in his daily life, his studies, his photography, and the awareness activities that we are involved in and are only set to increase. Matthew is loving going places and taking photographs that he knows he never could before and of course we are loving the results:
Matthew and up to 130 supporters will be riding in the 35km Amashova Classic in October 2018 to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation. For Matthew this will be a dream come true. For him this is not a race, it is simply a celebration in honour of his donor and the gift that he has been given.
Over the last months, Matthew has been privileged to attended events to honour not only the surgeon who operated on him at birth, Prof Rob Kinsley, but more recently his transplant surgeon, Mr Kleinloog’s 21 years of doing transplants. We are all simply in awe of these gentlemen.
As we continue with our awareness campaign we have been really privileged to have a team of creative’s (Fireworx) decide to come onboard for the year. They are putting on an event on 13 October to help Hero777 create awareness about organ and tissue donation and to help Matthew reach his goal of helping others who are waiting for transplants receive their special gift.
Recently, Matthew was fortunate to attend the National Transplant Games in Port Elizabeth and to feel a part of this incredible community. He dreams of participating in the World Transplant Games in the future and often drops hints of where these are being held.
As we look back over the months since transplant we can’t but be extremely grateful for the gift Matthew has received. For us as his parents this time has been one of marvelling at the difference in Matthew’s life, the endless possibilities for the future and the absolute love we feel for him.
Our dream is to see more and more people on the transplant waiting list receive this incredible gift of a second chance. A chance to live life fully and make a difference for others as Matthew aims to do.
Please support our campaigns and events where possible. You may just be responsible for saving people’s lives one day. #BeAHero