Her bag is always packed and ready for a trip to the
But all she wants to do is be able to run around and
visit places she’s never seen before without having to think about her oxygen
machine, which has only two hours of battery life before it needs to be
This is the dream of cystic fibrosis sufferer Vanessa
Neveling (25) of Port Elizabeth and now she’s one step closer to achieving it.
Vanessa is in contact with a doctor at Groote Schuur Hospital
in Cape Town and soon she’ll find out if she can get onto the waiting list for
a life-saving double lung transplant. The appointment was initially scheduled
for 16 April, but Vanessa got sick so it was postponed to 14 May.
Her body is currently too weak for the flight from
Port Elizabeth to Cape Town.
Vanessa was three weeks old when her parents realised
all was not well with their little girl and shortly afterwards she was
diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
The life-threatening genetic condition causes a
thickening of the mucus produced by the body, which affects the lungs and the
body’s digestive system and lungs.
“When I was younger it was okay,” Vanessa says.
“But as I got older and realised what cystic fibrosis
meant, it became harder and harder for me because I knew there were things I’d
never be able to do.
I can only walk about 20 steps before I’m out of
breath and if I laugh or talk just a little I’ll start hyperventilating.
“I need to be on oxygen for most of the day.”
Brave Vanessa’s inner strength came to the attention
of singer Desmond Wells, who contacted YOU magazine about her.
“She’s really an inspiration to so many people,” he
“It’s difficult for her because when she gets sick she
only has about 20% of her lung capacity.”
Desmond goes to visit Vanessa whenever he performs in
When she was younger, Vanessa was in hospital almost
every six weeks but these days she’s barely at home for a week before she’s
“I spend a week or two at most with my family, then I
spend about two weeks or sometimes a month in hospital. It’s not always nice
because I’d really love to spend more time with my family but I’m so used to it
my bag is always packed and ready.”
At the moment she’s been in hospital for 25 days and
needs to stay for at least another two weeks. Vanessa feels disappointed that
the doctor’s appointment needed to be postponed, but remains hopeful.
“I believe things will get better.”
Vanessa’s doctors encouraged her to get a lung
transplant in 2014 but she could never afford medical aid or get onto a waiting
In December last year she read about a double lung
transplant that had been performed at Groote Schuur.
She emailed the doctor and
he invited her for a consultation so he could evaluate whether she’s eligible
for a spot on the waiting list for the procedure, which will be financed by the
In the meantime Vanessa remains optimistic and holds
tightly to a Bible verse, Matthew 21:22, which Desmond shared with her.
believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”