Hillcrest teen gets second chance at life

2018-01-08 13:21
Matthew Legemaate, a teenager from Hillcrest underwent a double lung and heart transplant. (Supplied)

Matthew Legemaate, a teenager from Hillcrest underwent a double lung and heart transplant. (Supplied)

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Durban - A Hillcrest teen, who underwent a double lung and heart transplant, says he hopes to do all the things he dreamed of.

Matthew Legemaate was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and Pulmonary Atresia at birth.

He also developed a lung disease that hampered oxygen and blood flow.

At the age of 13, he was put on the waiting list for a heart and bilateral lung transplant.

Despite his illness, the 19-year-old kept fighting and believed that he would one day be able to live a "normal life".

READ: Never give up

"I always made sure that I had something to look forward to - a rugby match, a visit with friends, an outing, a school event, a show or [a] stay in [the] bush. Each of these [helped me focus] on the future and helped me get to the next "event", Legemaate said.

Legemaate became the seventh person in South Africa to receive a heart and double lung transplant.

He underwent the procedure at the Busamed Gateway Private Hospital in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal in October 2017. 

- Health24: Heart Health

As a result of his previous five open-heart surgeries and the resultant scar tissue and adhesions, the procedure was complicated and, in many ways, groundbreaking.
 
He has been recovering at home. His body has healed fully and he has been breathing normally. 

He has also been receiving physiotherapy treatment for nerve pain in his right leg.

Big dreams

Legemaate has big dreams. He hopes to one day become a professional photographer and to travel the world.


At the age of 13, Matthew Legemaate was put on the waiting list for a heart and bilateral lung transplant. (Supplied)

"I specifically want to use my skills and experiences to focus on raising awareness about organ and tissue donation, so that other people can receive the amazing second chance that I have [received].

READ: Inspirational teen calls for more organ donors

"Organ and tissue donors are heroes to the recipients and not only save lives, but also change so many others for the better."

Legemaate also dreams of doing the 35km Amashova Cycle Race in Durban this year. 

"The next step would ideally be to attend the World Transplant Games in Newcastle in the United Kingdom in 2019, preferably as a participant, but more likely as a spectator this time.

"I would also like to attend Vega School of Design in 2019 if I am able to," he said.

Role models

His parents have been instrumental in his life. 

"It goes without saying that my parents are my biggest role models. They have handled everything thrown at them with strength, determination and dignity, and have always done what they believed was best for my brother and I," he said. 


Matthew Legemaate was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and Pulmonary Atresia at birth. (Supplied)

Springbok backline player Patrick Lambie, who bounced back onto the rugby field after several injuries, has also been one of his idols.

Legemaate was hoping to reach his goal of registering 50 000 new organ and tissue donors on his hero777.co.za website

For now, the greatest gift he has ever received is the "gift of life". 

"I am happy that I no longer have to worry about ensuring my oxygen concentrator is charged, nor [do I] have to carry it around, as I no longer need to be on oxygen.

"This has and will continue to change my life significantly, giving me [the] freedom to do so many things that I never could and making it easy to achieve my goals."

Read more on:    durban  |  health  |  good news

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