Lifesaving organ transplants at Groote Schuur and Red Cross Children Hospitals | Western Cape Government


Lifesaving organ transplants at Groote Schuur and Red Cross Children Hospitals

4 September 2023

Thanks to the generosity of registered donors, donor families, and living donors, hundreds of individuals lives have been lengthened over the years because of transplants at Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness health facilities. Recently, the organs of a deceased individual have made it possible for four recipients on the waiting list for kidneys and livers to benefit from surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (RCWMCH) just a few weeks ago.

Following the recent transplants, the doctors have been monitoring their condition and are satisfied with their recovery to date. Typically, the length of an organ recipient’s hospital stay depends on various factors, including how well the surgery went and the recipient’s overall health.

Nangamso Liwani (32) was a recipient who received a kidney transplant at GSH. As an employee at the hospital, she recalled experiencing dizziness at work in 2016. “My vision became blurry, and I was advised to seek medical help from our nursing staff. During the consultation, my blood pressure was examined, and it was very high. I was immediately sent to the emergency unit where bloods were drawn, and I was admitted. The doctor informed me that my kidneys were not functioning well, and I was diagnosed with kidney failure.

Upon hearing that a match was found for her, Nongamso said she was extremely excited and could not contain her tears. “It was like I cried in disbelief that this has happened to me. It was a miracle because I knew that my dialysis days were over, and I will finally have a well-functioning kidney.

According to Prof. Nicola Wearne, Associate Professor of Nephrology and Hypertension at GSH, Nomgamso was accepted onto the peritoneal dialysis programme in 2016. “Her end-stage kidney disease was due to hypertension. She was a very compliant patient and managed her peritoneal dialysis well for the seven years preceding her transplant. She worked for many years while being on peritoneal dialysis. I think it is important to note that by the time she had a transplant she had little medical comorbidities.”

Demi Zara Hendricks (12) was a recipient who received a liver transplant at RCWMCH. She was diagnosed with Billiary Atresia in 2011 and hospitalised for two years with recurrent cholangitis. “I was afraid and emotional, however, happy at the same time. I now feel better, and healthier with my new liver and I am thankful despite all the challenges. I can now focus on getting better at the hospital, start walking and go home as a happy patient. I’m grateful to the donor, the doctors and nurses for giving me second chance of life.

According to Prof. Mignon McCulloch, Head of Clinical Unit: Renal and Organ Transplant at RCWMCH, it is a special way of helping others, possibly children, by giving them a second chance in life by donating your own or loved one’s organs in the event of something happening to them or yourself. “It is so important to tell your family what your wishes are when deciding to become an organ donor.

Anyone can volunteer to donate their organs once they reach 18 years of age. The two common forms of organ donation include live donations in which donors who are alive can donate organs like a kidney and a part of the liver because human beings can survive with one kidney and the liver is the only organ in the body that is known to regenerate itself, making it possible for these organs to be transplanted while the donor is still alive.

"For families considering donating their loved one’s organs, please know they always go to people desperately in need. Every donation saves lives. Your family will always be asked for their permission. Tell your family what your wishes are. Your and their privacy and anonymity are maintained throughout this entire process," said Dr David Thomson, Consultant Surgeon in the Transplant Unit at GSH.

It is simple, easy and costs nothing to register as an organ donor. Register online or call the Organ Donor Foundation's toll-free line on 0800 22 66 11.