Friendship has no boundaries, as these two women are proving.
Neither race nor blood ties could stop a generous nurse from giving her kidney to her sick colleague.
When Christel Swart, a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Hermanus Mediclinic, learnt that her friend, pharmacist assistant Zandra Marais, had acute kidney failure and needed a transplant, her first reaction was to offer to be tested as a potential donor.
Zandra, 54, says: “She is an angel that was sent to me because everything worked out so perfectly. She was the first one to be tested and she was a match.”
Yesterday, the big operation took place at the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town, and by last night, both ladies were doing well, according to a close friend.
But before that, Christel and Zandra had to go through three years of tests, ultrasound scans and counselling before Christel’s kidney was harvested yesterday in a three-hour op, and then transplanted into Zandra’s ailing body in a nerve-wracking five-hour procedure.
Zandra’s trial began in 2013 when she was diagnosed with acute kidney failure and had to start undergoing dialysis twice a week.
The mother of four adult children says the illness came as a huge shock as she didn’t know she had any kidney problems.
At the time, she was only taking medication for high blood pressure.
Meanwhile Christel, who celebrates her 44th birthday today, says giving her kidney to Zandra was her gift to her colleague and friend.
“It doesn’t really make a big difference in my life but it will make a big difference to her,” says Christel.
And it seems no sacrifice is too big for the bighearted nurse who had to take three weeks unpaid leave so she could recuperate after the life-saving transplant.
Friends and colleagues are now busy raising funds for Christel, who won’t be earning her much-needed income during this period.
Christel’s friend Nadia Potgieter says every little bit is helping.
“It doesn’t cover her salary yet but the response has been good with people from as far as Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth making donations,” says Nadia.
Anyone wishing to donate can contact Nadia Potgieter 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.
According to spokes person Laticia Pienaar, Tygerberg Hospital treats thousands of kidney patients annually, and high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney diseases are the leading causes of kidney failure.
While those lucky enough to have medical aid receive dialysis at private hospitals, about 50 percent of state patients are forced to do it at home through a process called peritoneal dialysis.
Pienaar says this is mostly done to accommodate state patients who live far from hospitals like Tygerberg, Groote Schuur, Red Cross, Worcester, Vredenburg and George.