Given a life-saving second chance

2016-10-11 06:00
Tina Beckbessinger - Tina B - encourages people to become organ donors. Photo: supplied

Tina Beckbessinger - Tina B - encourages people to become organ donors. Photo: supplied

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BORN with a congenital heart disease and pulmonary hypertension, Tina Beckbessinger - “Tina B” - was unable to lead a normal life and any activity or excursion left her gasping for air and exhausted.

After collapsing at the age of 13 she was fitted with a life-saving pacemaker - usually reserved for the elderly.

By the time she reached 21, Tina B was taking strain and the pacemaker didn’t helping the way it used to.

Three months before her 22nd birthday, Tina B had another pacemaker fitted, but was never able to regain the vigour and strength she'd had after the first pacemaker was fitted and her health steadily got worse during her twenties.

Finally she was reduced to being on oxygen 90% of the day and slept between 18 and 20 hours at a time.

On the days she was strong enough to get out of bed, she was pushed in a wheelchair.

Tina B waited for two and a half years to get her life- saving transplant (heart and double lung in October 2011) at eThekwini Hospital and Heart Centre.

Her transplant and recovery are an incredible story of hope, strength and courage. She is now leading a normal life and has taken part in her first Cape Town Cycle Tour.

She is also the longest living person in South Africa to have had this operation. This is one of many amazing stories of how organ donation can help save a life.

Speaking to the Fever about her illness and recovery Tina B said: “From being bed-bound to living a full and active life, I have taken part in two major cycling events, including the 2015 Cape Argus Cycle Tour.

“It is my goal to promote organ donation in South Africa to make people aware of the difference they can make in someone’s life and to inspire as many people as possible to ‘Live while you are alive’.

“The donor situation in KZN is dire and at an all-time low. KZN has the least number of registered donors in the country and statistics for the country are lowering each year.”

She encourages people to become organ donors.

“There are two charities trying to gain support to spread the urgent message that we need organ donors to save lives.

“The Love Life, Gift Life is doing an amazing job of spreading and creating awareness and was set up and is run by people who have had or are awaiting transplants.

“There is also the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa that was set up by doctors to try to educate the medical fraternity about the importance of referring possible donors to save lives. They also run the National Donor Register.”

Tina B said that one donation can save a possible seven lives.

For more information on organ donation email Bongiwe: or Alice Vogt

To find out more about Tina B’s story email

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