I should have died 18 months ago.
lnstead, I was reborn after I received a liver from a young man who passed away, but saved my life. A true hero, he will always be part of me. His legacy will continue through my life.
This is my story. A story of undeserved grace and of unthinkable hope.
Being a strong believer, I want to start by first giving God all the glory and the honour for this miracle in my life. He is a loving Father that loved me so much that he gave His only beloved Son to die on the cross so that I can have eternal life. Without Him sacrificing His life, I might have been physically alive, but would have been spiritually dead.
And then secondly to thank a young man and his family for this special gift of life that I received through him donating his liver to me. How can I ever express my gratitude and appreciation for this unselfish deed?
He not only saved my life, but many other lives were also saved and impacted through his giving. He is truly a Hero and his legacy in life will continue to live through me. It was even more special to both me and his parents when we recently connected and their story and my story became our story.
But let me start at the beginning. I was born in 1968 in Colesberg in South Africa and grew up mostly in Cape Town.
After school I went to Stellenbosch University and studied engineering. In my final year I married to Adri, my first love from school. We have two lovely daughters, Juliandri and Trudie who are now 20 and 17-years-old respectively.
After university, I started work for an engineering company in Johannesburg and shortly after, was transferred to their Windhoek office in Namibia. In 1995, I moved to Oshakati in the north of Namibia where I eventually started my own company in 2002.
In 2008 we moved back to Windhoek where we currently live.
In 2002, at the age of 32, I believe God gave me a clear purpose for my life after I read the story of Nehemiah in the Bible – to make a significant impact in the lives of others.
I read a story about a man in exile who, after he heard about the trouble his people were in when the walls of Jerusalem was destroyed by fire, took action and helped rebuild the walls and restore the people of Israel.
I knew God was calling me to not only use my engineering skills to make a physical impact in the lives of people, but also to make a social impact, thereby rebuilding physical and social walls in this world.
In October 2002, I began my own company when my newfound purpose become the reason behind our business, namely to make a physical impact and a social impact in people’s lives.
Over the last 16 years we have grown the company and also started a foundation through which we want to bring God’s love and hope to people and communities and impact lives together with many other like-minded people and organisations.
But while growing up, being a husband and a father and building up a business, I was always faced with health problems. I was diagnosed at the age of 15 with a colon disease and were told that it might lead to cancer one day. At the age of 30 the disease affected my liver and I was told that I would one day need a liver transplant.
In 2014, my colon began to show early signs of cancer and on March 18, 2014 my colon was removed and I received an ileostomy.
I recovered well, but a year later, my liver worsened and I fell ill, spending 3 months in and out of hospital. During that time I was put on a liver transplant program and the wait for a new liver began.
Typically, with liver problems, I was constantly tired, could not focus, was itchy and scratched myself all the time. I was forced to use sleeping pills to be able to sleep. This was a tough time for both my family and I.
After more than 18 months on the transplant program waiting for a suitable liver and struggling to have a normal life, my situation worsened fast. At the end of 2016, I was in really bad shape.
Shortly after returning from holiday, my liver stopped functioning and I was rushed to hospital after I lost consciousness. I was flown out of Windhoek in January on an emergency flight to the liver clinic in Johannesburg.
On arrival, the doctors told my wife that I would most likely die. My liver was not functioning, my kidneys were failing, I had water on my lungs and my heart was weak. To make matters worse, I was taken off the transplant list since my body was too weak for surgery.
Then the first miracle happened. The doctors managed to stabilize me and after 6 days in the ICU, I was transferred to the High Care Ward. But I was still in a bad state. I received almost daily blood transfusions since I was bleeding internally due to the high portal pressure.
I had feeding tubes through my nose and although I regained consciousness, I was confused, delusional and spent much of my time asleep.
Then the second miracle happened. I gained enough strength and my heart condition improved. I was put back on the liver transplant program. But we fully realised that the waiting had to start all over again. I would later learn that the doctors told Adri that they would have given me the first liver they got, whether it is healthy or not, my blood type or not and treat problems that arose afterwards.
But God’s grace is bigger than we can ever think or imagine. The morning after I was put back on the transplant list, less than 12 hours later, one of the doctors came running into my room shouting “We found you a liver!”. And the biggest miracle is that it was a perfect healthy liver with my blood type.
The next day, after an 8-hour operation, I received a second chance in life. My recovery was also a miracle. Normally someone in my condition would stay in hospital for 4 weeks and 3-4 months in Johannesburg, to be close to the hospital for regular testing and check-ups. However, two weeks after the transplant I was out of hospital and 2 months later back at home and in the office!
I am enjoying and appreciating life more than ever before, with renewed energy and my dreams were bigger than before. I believe that God through His grace alone, allowed me to continue with my purpose for which He had created me, equipped me for and called me to.
And I will continue to live a purposeful life to make a significant impact in the lives of people. But now, it is not only me. Inside me, a young man, will continue to live and together we will now impact the lives of many people.
Shortly after the transplant, I started to think about what happened to me. And it was as if the Lord reminded me of the impact that the new liver had on my sick body. How my body had regenerated and healed itself over time. And it was as if He showed me that this is the impact that WE can have if WE become like a new liver for a sick world and work together to impact lives. I also had the opportunity to share my story on the Tedx Talks platform which can be viewed on https://youtu.be/w9oajfclIx8
But to become a new liver for the world, the ME must die and become the WE. Just like the young man that is now part of me. I could not continue to live on my own. And like a liver that consists of tissues that consist of cells, WE can only become the liver for this sick world if many of us with different skills, gifts and purposes come together and become one. The ME disappears and the world only sees the WE.
We should stop building our own kingdoms here on earth. Stop having our own visions. We must only see God’s vision for the world. Understand our purpose and work together to make Him King and let His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. We must in wisdom and understanding see His plan for the world and work together to bring it to pass.
I hope that my, no, “our” story will inspire you to live a life of purpose, bigger than yourself, to become like a seed that is planted and dies to bring forth much fruit. To become a tree that others will find shade under and eat from. That you and me will become part of the new liver the world is desperately waiting for.