Living life as a gift

2017-03-28 06:03
 Photo: Kaveel Singh, News24Matthew Legemaate and his mother Janet.

Photo: Kaveel Singh, News24Matthew Legemaate and his mother Janet.

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LIVNG by the motto, ‘Life is not fair, accept this and make a difference’, Upper Highway mom, Janet Legemaate’s life is far from easy. Her eldest son Matthew was born with a congenital heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallots and Pulmonary Atresia and her younger son Luke was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Legemaate has since devoted her life, to ensure that her children with special needs are given the best possible opportunity for a full life.

For Matthew, this means an organ transplant and Legemaate has discovered that over 4300 people have a similar need so part of her life goal is to help them all by bringing awareness.  For Luke, this means raising awareness about Prader-Willi Syndrome and how it affects individuals to varying degrees. 

She said: “As a volunteer, my goal is to raise as much awareness about organ donation and Prader-Willi Syndrome as I can and hopefully this will impact on many people's lives,” said Legemaate.

The hardworking mom, works alongside for Organ Donor Foundation highlighting the organ donor situation in the province and when the opportunity arises she encourages people to register as potential organ donors.

She also volunteers for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association of South Africa and she is presently working on developing a programme through the ENZA Trust to raise more awareness about organ donation particularly in KZN as she says that this is the neglected province when it comes to organ donor awareness.

Legemaate says that volunteering can be very time intensive. 

“Any event where your cause is highlighted requires preparation beforehand and on the day.  These events can be talks at schools, corporate offices and churches, stands at walks or malls or events that you personally manage for the cause.   

“However, my favourite part of volunteer work is meeting people, being able to share our story and those of others and hopefully inspiring them to make a difference.”

The 50-year-old said that as a volunteer, her most rewarding experience was: “After months of preparation seeing 1500 people participate in the Proud 2B and Organ Donor Mega Walk in August 2016. 
“I have never been so tired in my life but for the small number of volunteers to achieve what we did on the day was incredible. 
“What made this more special was the spinoff of record blood donations and bone marrow registrations for an event like this.”

She said that the success stories of people who have received a transplant keep her motivated that perhaps one day her family and friends that they have met on this journey, will be touched in the same way. 

Some days the frustration gets to me and I just need some alone time with a good book.

Legemaate’s message for the community is: “Organ and tissue donation is a gift of a second chance at life for someone in desperate need.  This can be a baby, a child, a mother, father, a grandparent, someone's sister or brother.
“Organ donation occurs at the time of greatest grief for one family but gives hope and life to another.  Be remembered for the life you gave,” she concluded.

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