Born with 3 holes in her heart, a missing tricuspid valve, an irregular & fast heart beat and narrowed arteries between the heart and lungs, Tina B’s chance of survival was minimal. As a child she would get tired and out of breath very quickly, especially when trying to join in with physical activity. From age 12, she had to sit out on physical activity all together.
At the age of 14 Tina B suffered heart failure and collapsed. She was rushed to hospital and resuscitated. The heart had been working so hard and grown so large that the cells that carry the electric impulses to make the heart beat had stretched too much to be able to carry an impulse. She was fitted with a pacemaker to ensure that if the natural impulse didn’t happen, a mechanical one would. It took Tina B a long time to recover from the operation and she spent the majority of her Std 7 (Grade 9) year at home.
By the end of Std 8 (Grade 10), Tina B was starting to struggle to get around her large high school, with its multiple stories and buildings. Her parents decided it would be best if she was home schooled. She matriculated in 1999 with the IEB. As many South African matriculates do, Tina B went to England to get some life experience. Unfortunately the cold weather and the pollution of London did her no favours. So she headed back home.
Tina B began to study Public Relations in 2002, but by the time the second year of her degree course came, she was starting to struggle again. Doctors decided it best to replace her pacemaker. Unfortunately it took Tina B even longer to recover from this operation than the first. In fact she never returned to her previous physical vigour. The damage to the heart, lungs and other organs was starting to show and take its toll.
Tina B was now starting to sleep more than 18 hours a day and struggled to complete the simple tasks of brushing and washing her hair, bathing, eating and walking. She began to get pains in her chest and had constant headaches. Her bone marrow began making more red blood cells to try and get more oxygen into her system, which had the effect of thickening the blood, making it harder for the heart to pump and for it to move around the body, causing the symptoms she was experiencing. The solution: Venisection (a process of drawing a large amount of blood, in this case 600ml, every six weeks to try and thin it) as well as blood thinning medication and oxygen.
Essentially bed bound and dependant on her mother for everything, Tina B even decided to shave off her hair as it was too much work and effort just too even brush it every day! On permanent oxygen and using a wheel chair when going out of the house, Tina B had lost quality of life to such an extent that just breathing was a battle. This is when she went onto the South African Transplant List. There were no other treatments open to her.
After a wait of 2 and a half years, Tina B got her transplant and became the sixth person in South Africa to have had a heart and bilateral lung transplant. She is currently the longest living person in Africa to have had this transplant.
The transplant has changed her life from being bed bound to living a full and active life. Not only has Tina B been able to study to become a certified NLP Practitioner so that she will be able to help, coach and counsel those waiting for transplant or surgery, but she has taken part in 2 cycle events, including the 2015 Cape Argus Cycle Tour and is keen to do more.
Tina B is currently in full preparation and training to take part in the Arnold Classic Africa Model Search. This is an internationally recognised competition that sees entries from some of the world’s fittest and strongest men and women. By competing in this prestigious event, Tina B hopes to raise awareness for Organ Donation and Transplant on a larger scale.
In order to get behind Tina B and offer your support please follow and share her journey by liking her Instagram: @TinaBalive and Facebook: @TinaBalive pages. Let’s get Tina B’s incredible story of hope, strength and courage out there to inspire, encourage and get the much needed conversation about Organ Donation going!
Contact Tina B for inspirational talks at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tina B’s story at: https://www.tinabalive.com