Woman donates kidney to help her ailing uncle

2011-12-06 00:00

A MARGATE man has a new lease of life thanks to a kidney donation from his niece.

Leon Liebenberg (63) underwent a successful kidney transplant on October 14 after his niece, Dionne Pretorius (38), donated one of her kidneys to save his life.

“I really scored big time,” laughs Liebenberg, “because her kidney is 100g bigger than a normal kidney.” Liebenberg had one of his kidneys removed in 2005 because it became cancerous.

“Two months later I went into hospital to have a scope done for my prostate and the machine was dirty.”

That caused further health complications for Liebenberg.

“It messed up my remaining kidney and I had to have that removed as well.”

He had been surviving on dialysis, which he underwent three times a week for the past eight years.

“The company I was working for eventually retrenched me because I was always sick and could not work.”

In Feburary Pretorius, who lives in Brakpan, came to Durban to watch a match between the Bulls and Sharks.

“I told him I’ll give him my kidney because I saw how he was suffering,” she says.

Tests were conducted and Pretorius was a 100% donor match for her uncle.

“I feel great that I was able to do this for him. The quality of my life hasn’t changed in anyway …”

Pretorius said that people need not fear being organ donors. “The only thing that has changed is that my uncle’s quality of life has improved. It feels wonderful to know that you can save a person’s life,” she says.

Liebenberg is glad that he can now go on holiday. “I haven’t been on holiday in so many years. I can even take my wife out to a restaurant now! Next year I’m going to start working again. With the dialysis we could do nothing,” he says.

His wife, Magda, said Pretorius was a “godsend”.

“There were many times where I thought I was going to lose him. Now he has a whole new life. It was very difficult for us …”

Doctors are happy with the health of both Liebenberg and Pretorius.

• witness@feveronline.co.za

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