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Turning a bad situation into something good

Kidney patient Wendy Mashinini raise awareness of renal health and aims to help patients.

Founder of the Wendy Mashinini Foundation, Wendy Mashinini (22) from Glenvista, is a kidney patient who started to raise awareness about renal health.

“I was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney condition, at the age of three. Growing up, I did not know what my condition was, I just knew I was sick,” said Wendy.

“I knew that every day after school I would come home for medication and that was until the age of nine. Every month I would go to a hospital for checkups, and the only thing I knew was that my kidneys were not well,” she said.

Wendy said having a kidney condition had a huge impact on her life, where she found she cannot just eat anything.

“You would find that if my family and I go to family functions, my mother would not allow me to have anything that contains salt. Salt is a big no to kidney patients. Growing up, my experiences were not like that of any other child I knew because I was prevented to have what other children would enjoy,” said Wendy.

She added she wouldn’t go outside to play with other children because she would end up getting sick on a much more frequent basis than the next person because of a compromised immune system.

“This had a huge impact on my life because I don’t eat the same things other people do. I don’t have the luxury of enjoying the taste of salt, doing certain activities because if I hurt myself then it is going to take a while for me to heal. I was restricted growing up due to my illness.”

A positive turn

“Although my condition impacted my life, it did not have a negative impact. I’d rather say the impact was positive because I am exposed to good people who have impacted my life for the better,” said Wendy.

She said she stayed positive by embracing her experiences and having an amazing support structure from her family and mostly her mother who was there with her all the time.

Her condition is not curable, but she said she was fortunate enough to survive her biopsy, which proved she did not need a kidney transplant.

After matric, she started her foundation, feeling such a strong sense of duty after seeing what the condition had done to other children.

The foundation is a registered NPO that is mainly focused on raising awareness about kidney health.

“The foundation is something I always wanted to do. I wanted people to know about more than just healthy kidneys, I wanted them to know about renal health and to be equipped with a better understanding about the condition and how it affects so many lives.”

Raising funds and awareness

Shugasmakx donating to the Wendy Mashinini Foundation. Photograph: Supplied.

“Renal health is not prioritised in the country. Renal patients have to travel great distances to get a checkup. Many children end up living in the hospitals their entire lives due to avoiding travelling for their checkups.

“My foundation wants to shed light on these issues and renal and kidney health in general. We want to encourage more people to become blood and organ donors. We would like to improve the South African healthcare system,” she said.

Her inspiration behind her foundation stems from her life and experiences and everything she has been through.

“We are focused on shedding light on social issues. People need to know more about organ trafficking. Kidneys are among the most prized organs on the black market,” she said.

“Our mission is to raise funds and buy dialysis machines to donate to places in need. We want more outpatient centres to be made accessible to make treatment easier for patients. The ultimate aim is a renal hospital.”

To be part of the Wendy Mashinini Foundation contact her on 073 626 4587 or at Wendy.mash1wm@gmail.com

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