ZAMA Mthembu recently became the first woman in Mzansi to have a combined heart and kidney transplant.
The 31-year-old from Witbank, Mpumlanga was the picture of happiness last week at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Joburg as she waited to be discharged.
She told Daily Sun: “Before, I was always exhausted and I could hardly walk.
“Now I feel I have my life back and I can live my dreams.”
Cardiologist Dr Graham Cassel, who was part of the team that performed the transplant, said: “This is a landmark procedure in South African medicine and demonstrates the new levels of maturity transplant programmes have reached in this country.”
The procedure was made possible by co-operation between the Netcare Milpark Hospital and the kidney transplant unit at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre.
Marlize Frauendorf, transplant recipient co-ordinator at Netcare, said the team was very concerned when Zama cried continually after her operation.
“When I asked Zama what was wrong, she said she was crying tears of joy.
“She was overwhelmed by her good fortune in receiving organs and the positive impact it would have on her life,” Frauendorf said.
Zama suffered from TB at an early age, which damaged her bones so much that later she had to have a hip replacement operation.
She suffered kidney failure six years ago and two years ago she was found to be suffering from a chronic disease of the heart muscles.
Jacques du Plessis, managing director of the Netcare hospital division, said: “This was the first dual heart and kidney procedure.
“Zama’s case brings new hope to those patients who might require this dual transplant in the future.”