someone is in need of an organ transplant, finding a donor can be a long process,
involving infinite patience and endless testing to find the perfect match.
Luckily for Ronelle Slabb (29), the waiting process wasn't that long – thanks
to her sibling. Her brother, Ryan Muller (28), generously agreed to donate one
of his kidneys in order to end her suffering. This is the heart-warming story
of how one can always rely on one’s family, no matter how dire the situation.
nightmare began when Ronelle was booked into hospital with hypertension and
pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. This led to renal (kidney) failure, which meant
that she immediately had to be set up for dialysis. After giving birth
successfully, Ronelle then had a choice, either to get a kidney transplant or
remain on dialysis for the rest of her life.
In her own
words: “I was heartbroken when I learnt that I had lost my health and that I
needed a new kidney in order to live a normal life again. It was one of the
most gruelling and confusing moments in my life. I was in constant fear that
the operation would be a failure and that I would remain dialysis dependent for
the rest of my life."
Trying to save the situation
started looking up when Ronelle’s brother Ryan decided to step in.
what my sister was going through was not a pleasant experience for me, as I saw
how all her dialysis sessions were draining the life out of her. She was
constantly tired and weak and I could see how she was suffering both mentally
and physically. I desperately wanted her to get better, and realised that the
only way for this to happen was to find a donor as soon as possible. I decided to get tested because I realised
that there was a strong chance of my kidney matching my sister’s, considering we’re
family. If the kidney did not match, then I would’ve been fine with it, because
I knew in my heart I did what I could for my sister. I was initially hesitant
to ask Ronelle if I should test my kidneys for a match, because I feared that
she might refuse to let me try, as she wouldn’t want me to go through such a
painful process. She asked if I really wanted to do this, I said 'yes' and she agreed."
Ryan to the rescue
happened, Ryan’s kidneys matched Ronelle’s and without hesitation he decided to
donate one to her. “I was fully committed to donating my kidney to Ronelle
despite the consequences, as I decided that whatever happens, must happen. I
really wanted to help my sister, because she deserved a normal and less
complicated life and I couldn’t stand to see her suffer, as it was very
traumatic for me to see her so weak and frail. She was no longer the energetic
and confident women I once grew up with.”
concerned that the transplant might have a negative effect on Ryan’s wellbeing
and health. “I was very concerned about
what would happen to Ryan’s health after the operation, and would only accept
the kidney if the medical team could assure me that Ryan would be healthy, and
that he could live a full life with only one kidney.”
operation took place on 13 November 2011 at the Christiaan Barnard Memorial
Hospital. The operation was successful, and Ronelle and Ryan were both doing
well. “I had no pain whatsoever,” exclaimed Ryan. “My body felt normal, and it
didn’t feel like anything had been removed, although I did have a slight numb
feeling in my legs.” Ryan couldn’t walk properly for a few weeks, but made a
speedy recovery. Ronelle felt a great difference within just two days after the
operation and had no further complications. "When I woke up, I just felt a
little weak and that was it. It didn't feel as if a truck had hit me at all
because I had no pain whatsoever."
Life after the operation
Ronelle and Ryan are both healthy, and both are living normal lives. “I feel
brand new,” says Ronelle. “I can eat and do things I couldn’t do before while I
was on dialysis. I can finally be myself again and praises be to God for making
the operation a success and making me healthy again. Although I have to take
anti-rejection medication for life and go for regular check-ups every three
months, that is nothing, compared to the blessing that I have received. Ryan is
also fit and is living his life to the fullest and is actively involved in
sports. He also has to go for check-ups, but only once a year.
Ryan and Ronelle
could not have done this without the support of their family.
including my sister, supported my decision 100% and I thank them for
accepting it and not trying to talk me
out of it," says Ryan happily.
Ronelle would like to thank her husband,
parents and siblings for their constant support. "They have been the most
amazing support in my life, and I could not have done any of this without them.
They stood by me from the time I was diagnosed with kidney failure, all the way
through to the transplant operation, and are still supporting me to this very
day. "I would also like to say thank you to my brother Ryan for his
bravery, loyalty and willingness to help me, despite the risks involved. You
have shown me that I can always count on family, no matter what."
What impact has the operation had on their
to Ryan, donating an organ has had a huge impact on his life. “I feel proud of
myself because I helped someone overcome a life-threatening situation, and if I
could do it again, I would. My sister's situation made me realise that there
are still lots of people out there in even worse predicaments and who are in
desperate need of new organs. So, if I had another opportunity to make a
difference, I would.” Ronelle feels the same way, stating that if she ever had
the opportunity to donate, she would. "I would share my life anytime, just
to make someone else experience what I feel now."
Ryan both came to the conclusion that donating an organ is not such a big deal
after all, as their respective operations involved no pain or any further
complications. In Ronelle's own words: "I want people to know more about
organ donation and not be scared to donate or go for a transplant. Despite the operations
Ryan and I went through, we are both living normal lives without any
complications, except that we have to go for regular check-ups, which is fine,
considering the blessings we've both received."