One-on-one with a local hero

2018-09-18 06:00
PHOTO: suppliedMatthew Legemate(middle) with Justin Bircher (Biokinetist) and Dawn Nunes (Physiotherapist) who have helped to get him this far.

PHOTO: suppliedMatthew Legemate(middle) with Justin Bircher (Biokinetist) and Dawn Nunes (Physiotherapist) who have helped to get him this far.

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AFTER being nominated as a local hero for the Festival in the Hills, which took place in Hillcrest recently, Matthew Legemaate chatted to Fever’s Phindile Shozi about what it takes to be a hero.

  • Who is Uppe r Highway resident Matthew Legemaate?
  • I am a 20-year-old Gillitts resident who had a heart and bi-lateral lung transplant in October 2017. I had been ill since birth and had my first of numerous open heart surgeries at 36 hours of age. I had been on oxygen and on the transplant waiting list from the age of 13. Prior to my transplant last year I had begun to deteriorate rapidly.

PS: What have you been up to lately?

ML: I am studying and preparing to participate in the Amashova Classic 35 km cycle event with a group of people to raise awareness about blood, organ and tissue donations. I am also following my passion in learning as much as I can about photography.

PS: What did you think about the Festival in the Hills as well as your nomination as a local hero?

ML: I absolutely loved the Festival in the Hills. I have always loved music and was so in awe of each participating choir and the wind orchestra. It was an amazing event to attend.

I was also so grateful to be invited along as one of the Heroes of the event. However I really don’t see myself as a hero, rather I feel that those who donate blood and blood products, organs and tissue are the real heroes as they save lives.

PS: What does it take to be a Hero?

ML: It takes someone to give of themselves or to donate with no expectation of a return to be a hero.

For me, anyone who gives another a second chance at life, be it via blood, bone marrow, organs or tissue is a Hero.

PS: Will you share some of your story with our readers?

ML: I started Hero777 (an initiative of the ENZA Trust NPO) with my mom to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation for everyone on the waiting list. My dream is to register 50 000 or more people who will one day be potential donors and save up to seven people’s lives each. The statistics for KZN are abysmal and so many people pass away unnecessarily when a donor could have saved their lives.

There are approximately 4 300 people in South Africa who are in need of a lifesaving or life changing transplant. There are also up to 50 000 people who are still waiting to be listed. When you consider that over 400 000 people pass away each year, you realise just how few people have considered being potential organ and tissue donors one day. My hope is that people will start the conversation with their loved ones and discuss what their wishes are, consider registering as organ and tissue donors, and then share their decision to do so. One day they may just be a hero to someone desperately in need of that second chance at life.

PS: What is your message to the people?

ML: Saving or changing someone’s life, be it through blood, organ or tissue donation is heroic. Please ‘Be the reason someone lives’ and impact not just them but their families and many more people. Register as an organ and tissue donation and ‘Be A Hero’.


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