Relief as Thandile gets liver

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

Felicity Madikane can smile again after her three-year-old daughter was given a lifeline after suffering a life-threatening disease.

It has been a long and agonising wait for Madikane, whose daughter Thandile has been waiting for a liver donor since she was diagnosed with biliary atresia when she was six-weeks-old.

But last Tuesday, Thandile underwent an eight-hour life-saving liver transplant at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre.

Biliary atresia is a progressive liver disorder. In children, the illness develops soon after birth due to underdeveloped or blocked bile ducts - the tubes outside the liver that carry bile from the organ to the intestines. The accumulation of bile damages the liver and leaves the child susceptible to opportunistic diseases.

Thandile's lifeline came when Stacey Bossenger sent a letter to 94.7 Highveld Stereo's Christmas Wish, which ran last December, highlighting the toddler's condition. Bossenger's daughter Jenna recently received a liver transplant for the same condition.

Both Bossenger and Madikane were told by the Transplant Clinic last year that there might be a liver available. If the liver was too big for Jenna, then it would be given to Thandile.

In preparation for the transplant, Madikane and Thandile went through the same process as Bossenger and Jenna, including blood tests, X-rays and hours of waiting. However, Jenna, and not Thandile, got the liver.

Children with biliary atresia generally don't live for more than four years. Without the transplant, Thandile would almost certainly not survive to celebrate another birthday, but the operation amounted to over R500000 and the family had no medical aid.

Touched by Thandile's story, 94.7 Highveld Stereo's Christmas Wish team approached Gold Reef Resorts who offered to sponsor R420000 towards the operation.

The next challenge was to find her a suitable liver for the transplant to take place.

On February 12, an organ donor was identified, the liver was evaluated and showed that it was a good match for Thandile. The liver could not have come at a better time as Thandile's condition had worsened to the point that she had been admitted to the Charlotte Maxeke General Hospital.

"She is recovering well. I hope that we will go home soon. I am so relieved that she found the liver. Her eyes are not yellow anymore and her urine is clear. I am very happy and thanks to everyone who helped me."

"Thandile is a cherub of a child who has warmed all of our hearts and touched us with her bravery," said Kim Crymble of the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre.