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'I feel as though I can conquer the world' - double lung-transplant recipient

11 December 2019 2:18 PM
Tags:
Groote Schuur hospital
Organ Donation
double lung transplant
Tanya Bothma

Tanya Bothma and Dr Dr Greg Calligaro chat to Pippa Hudson on the second anniversary of the life-changing procedure.

Capetonian Tanya Bothma struggled for most of her life with something we tend to take for granted - simply being able to breathe.

By 2017, the then-38-year-old was down to 14% of her lung capacity due to a severe lung condition which obstructs the airways.

Then the miracle happened: in 2018 Bothma underwent the first bilateral lung transplant in a state hospital in South Africa.

She joins Pippa Hudson On the Yellow Couch on the second anniversary of that life-changing procedure, along with a member of her medical team, specialist pulmonologist Dr Greg Calligaro.

Bothma describes her life pre-transplant:

I was tired a lot. As a mom I tried to do as much as possible with my little girl, but I got tired very quickly. I used to online-shop.

Tanya Bothma, Double-lung transplant recipient

She would come to me and say 'Mommy, at school they asked us what we did this weekend and I just had to say we stayed at home'. That broke my heart.

Tanya Bothma, Double-lung transplant recipient

Bothma says life became a rollercoaster when doctors told her she needed a lung transplant.

It was a big shock to us as a family. It wasn't just my husband and my decision, it was my parents' decision as well and we sat down as a family and spoke about it.

Tanya Bothma, Double-lung transplant recipient

Dr Calligaro notes that the first lung transplant was carried out in the US in 1963 - four years before Groote Schuur Hospital hit the headlines with the first heart transplant - but it took almost two decades of medical advances before the procedure became successful.

Technically, the expertise has existed for a long time, but the major problems were with immuno-suppression and one of the major obstacles in a lung transplant is making sure that the join that you make between the donor lungs and the recipient lungs in the airway doesn't break down.

Dr Greg Calligaro, Specialist pulmonologist

Members of the team have had training in international centres, but at the end of the day you've got to do it in your environment on your home turf for the very first time and that's what happened with Tanya... Not only did we have such a poster girl for how transformative a lung transplant can be, but I think we also got very lucky with the result (of the first double transplant).

Dr Greg Calligaro, Specialist pulmonologist

Speaking about the role of organ donors in changing and saving lives, Bothma becomes emotional when she recalls her deceased uncle and brother's contributions and also her own donor.

You don't just have to give your organs. You can give tissue and help up to 50 people, and save seven people by solid organs.

Tanya Bothma, Double-lung transplant recipient

It's a gift to one, yet tremendous pain for another.

Tanya Bothma, Double-lung transplant recipient

Bothma describes how her own life has changed in the past two years.

I feel as though I can conquer the world right now, I am doing so many things... My friends keep telling me: Tanya, please could you slow down!

Tanya Bothma, Double-lung transplant recipient

Listen to the inspirational conversation below:


11 December 2019 2:18 PM
Tags:
Groote Schuur hospital
Organ Donation
double lung transplant
Tanya Bothma

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