Growing up, medical aid and visits to doctors was not part of our family budget. We were nursed at home, by mum or grandma with traditional medicines. It worked and we lived healthy lives. In mid 2007 I was doing my last delivery of the day in the area I live, I run my own distribution business, and my doctor’s rooms was opposite the store I was at. Seeing his rooms empty I decided to go and get my shoulder aches seen too.
My doctor did his normal routine check, but then left the room, made a phone call and came back in. He then handed me an envelope and stated I need to go now to the Cardiologist that he recommended. I actually thought he was joking.
I didn’t go, as I had to pick my children up from school and they were busy with exams. My wife was out of the province on business too. This was a Thursday afternoon. My wife arrived home that evening and I didn’t tell her anything. The next day we left as usual to work and as was routine she would call me to check how the children were in her absence. I told her what the doctor asked me to do. She went quite, told me to stop the vehicle and put the phone down. Next call from her was to tell me she was bringing her niece’s husband to drive and pick me up.
I was taken to the cardiologist who examined me and then booked me in for an angiogram the following Monday. The results from the angiogram showed that I had a swollen left ventricle caused by a strain of the flu virus. I needed to go on a regime of medication to maintain the heart and bodily functions. I was told that I could live with medication for a good few years.
At the end of June 2009 I had to be admitted into hospital as my body was taking a lot of strain. Leading up to this, I was getting tired quickly, had swollen feet and battled with a loss of appetite. It was at this point that I realized that I may not have long to live . I was finding things difficult and my body was virtually shutting down. The amount of visitors that I received told me that my time was running out. It was at this point that my wife literally grabbed the Cardiologist by the scruff of the neck and questioned his delay in putting me on a transplant list.
My daughter had just started high school at the beginning of that year and we had sorted her travel based on our work schedule. This all went out the window. My son was a first year University student. My business had to still operate. My wife had to work and life had to go on in an abnormal situation. The Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) at Westville Hospital became my new home till 17th September 2009. It was here that I met Cindy Goldie who I still believe she is God’s Angel. Her visits and conversation were usually with my wife as I was always tired and on medication.
Eventually the plan was to move me to the New Ethekwini Heart Hospital. That is where the transplant would take place. However a transplant was dependent on a donor. By now I was on 10% heart function and the only thing keeping me alive was a regime of medication and prayers by everyone that loved me and even strangers. For some reason Friday seems to be my lucky day. I moved to Ethekwini on a Friday and on the Saturday I was informed of a pending transplant. However, as I was being pushed into the operating theatre, I was informed that it had to be aborted. The emotions displayed by my family and friends could have been mistaken for someone passing away.
There after, there were 2 other occasions that another recipient received the heart. This decision is always based on the suitability and on the seriousness of the recipient. At the end of September I was sent home. There was nothing that could be done for me and only a donor could save my life. During the time I was at home I still battled as my heart function was low and all the issues related to a weak heart were still prevalent. A persistent cough early in the detection of my heart problem was still with me, and seemed to get worst.
By early 0ctober 2009 I called the rooms of my cardiologist and he asked me to come in at 1pm. After seeing me he reiterated that only a transplant would save me. It was at this time Cindy was trying to get hold of me. A donor had been found and I needed to come immediately, however, I was already at the hospital. I awoke at around 10am the next morning in October 2009 and as I cast my eyes outside the cubicle in SCCU I saw the best sight ever, my family.
According to the operating surgeon the donor heart was a God send, as mine, when removed, stopped beating almost immediately. It was swollen to the extent that it had to be carried with 2 hands. Due to its size it was pushing against my lungs and was the cause of my persistent cough. Throughout my episode pre transplant and early post transplant my wife’s strength, her ability to multitask and her love was amazing. The saying dynamite comes in small packages certainly holds true for her. My children grew in leaps and bounds to become independent and decisive.
In October of this year I will celebrate 10 years post transplant. I have, through the generosity and unselfishness of my donor, enjoyed watching my son and daughter graduate twice from University.
One thing that is very clear to me is that the trauma of the patient is incomparable to that of your loved ones. They endure each day not knowing if the next call will be tragic or triumphant.
Today, I have lived a full second chance and all because my donor chose to give the gift of life. It’s something we all can do, it’s something we all should do and it’s your way of giving a priceless gift that has no use if you chose to take it with you when you pass away.
Will you consider becoming a hero to someone? Please talk about organ and tissue donation, register and then share your decision.