“We’re family now.”
So says Christel Swart, the bighearted nurse who donated one of her kidneys to her colleague Zandra Marais, 54, who was diagnosed with acute kidney failure in 2013.
Christel, who turned 44 yesterday, says giving her kidney to her friend from the Hermanus Mediclinic was her birthday gift to Zandra.
Less than 24 hours after the lifesaving organ was removed from her body, the bubbly nurse was up and about visiting Zandra, who is still recovering in the Intensive Care Unit of the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town.
Doctors made four small holes and a cut under Christel’s panty line to remove her kidney during a seven-hour operation on Tuesday.
Christel explains: “It took a bit longer than expected because there was a small problem with the veins but everything worked out.”
Doctors then transplanted the kidney into Zandra’s ailing body during another five-hour-long operation.
“Everything went well and Zandra is fine,” says Christel, who said she was looking forward to Friday when she’ll be discharged and able to return to her husband, daughter, son and five-month-old grandchild.
Christel had herself tested after learning of Zandra’s health issues.
According to Zandra, none of her relatives were suitable candidates to donate their kidneys .
The mother of four adult kids described Christel as “an angel that was sent to me because everything worked out so perfectly”.
In a fortunate twist, Christel was the first one to be tested and was a match.
Dialysis patients can wait up to three years for a suitable donor.
Unfortunately, Christel had to take three weeks unpaid leave as she couldn’t get sick leave.
A friend and colleague of the two women, Nadia Potgieter, is raising funds to help compensate Christel for the income she won’t be receiving.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can contact Nadia on 082 721 8902 or make a deposit into the bank account: Hermanus Staan Saam, Capitec Bank, account number 1359638669, Branch Code 470010. Use the word KIDNEY as reference.