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Organ recipient wants to create awareness

His kidneys stopped working, and his body was filled with extra water and waste products.

Organ and tissue donation is more important than many of us realise – for society and for the individuals it directly affects. For some people with end-stage organ failure, it is truly a matter of life and death.

This was the case with 66-year-old Kenneth Naidoo, who was diagnosed with total renal failure at approximately 21 years ago. His kidneys stopped working, and his body was filled with extra water and waste products.

As soon as he was diagnosed, he was added to a waiting list to receive a kidney transplant.

“Because my kidneys were unable to filter my body’s toxins, the impurities started building up and I had to undergo regular dialysis to remove the waste products and excess fluid from the blood. In my case it involved diverting blood to a machine to be cleaned,” he explained.

Kenneth had around three dialysis sessions per week. Each session took about five hours, which resulted in him spending around 60 hours in hospital per month.

During this time he had to follow a strict diet. He wasn’t allowed to drink water or eat any kind of colourful fruit or vegetables with a high water content. Because his kidneys weren’t able to filter the water, it would go directly to his lungs, eventually causing him to drown.

“I did this for five years; going to hospital week after week and putting an ice cube in my mouth whenever I was thirsty,” he said.

This was soon to be only memories when he received that one life-changing phone call he’d been waiting for.

“It was January 10, 2005 when they called me and told me that they’ve found a match. With no time to spare we rushed to hospital and the procedure was done within a few hours. From that day I have been so grateful towards that anonymous donor who saved my life. I just wish I could thank that family and tell them how thankful I am,” Kenneth said.

It took him three months to recover from the transplant under very strict health and isolation protocols – very similar to that of Covid-19. This is because the immune system is suppressed to prevent the transplanted organ from being rejected.

Today, Kenneth and his wife, Vel are both volunteers and representatives for the Organ Donor Foundation. They are passionate about recruiting organ donors by going to churches, schools, universities, health days and other institutions to tell Kenneth’s story of hope. However, this is currently on hold due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“I pray for that soul who saved my husband’s life every day. What frightens me about South Africa is that less than 1% of the population are organ donors. And this in the country that performed the first-ever organ transplant in history. We are in dire need of organ donors throughout the country,” Vel said.

Organ donation provides a life-giving, life-enhancing opportunity to those who are at the end of the line for hope. And the need for organ donors is growing. This is why they want to encourage people to become organ donors. One organ donor can save up to seven lives and furthermore transform over 50 lives.

“There is a verse in the Bible that says the following: ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’. Even though one cannot always lay your life down for a friend, you can donate your organs and save them. You can become a superhero who saves lives,” Kenneth concluded.

If you want to know more about becoming an organ donor, feel free to send an email to kennethnaidoo.kn@gmail.com. You can also contact the Organ Donor Foundation on 0800 22 66 11 or visit their website at odf.org.za.

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