- A man saved talented SA artist and wildlife crusader, Di Wilkinson's life after he donated his kidney to her
- Wilkinson was diagnosed with an inherited disorder five years ago,
- And, she has since lost both her kidneys to the disease
The unidentified man, known only as M, risked his life to save Wilkinson on 10 May 2018, when he donated his kidney to save her.
His act of kindness helped Wilkinson spend another mother's day with her children, who called the good Samaritan a "selfless man who would risk his live to save our mom's".
Briefly.co.za learned Wilkinson's daughter said the man, who chose to stay anonymous, is a close family friend.
In 2013, Wilkinson was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, a disorder where cysts form on the kidneys.
Over the years, she suffered a lot of pain due to infections caused by the cysts and in June 2015, she ended up losing one of her kidneys.
Just over a year later, Wilkinson had her other kidney removed as well and her daughter explained she had to rely on dialysis.
Although the treatment helped keep her alive, Wilkinson's health deteriorated and she would not make it without a kidney transplant.
Her daughter explained they tested 10 different possible donors over the years, but there was no match for her mom.
"My mom was bumped up to the Top 50 on the organ transplant list but with the shortage of organ donors in South Africa – only approximately 0.1% of the South African population is registered for organ donation after death – so that reality, combined with the fact that she was 56, 57… meant her chances weren’t looking good", she said.
It was then when their close friend, M, came forward to offer his help. After several tests confirmed he was the perfect match, Wilkinson finally had hope of a better future.
But, there were still problems they faced.
"Two years later we eventually got to the point where they were a match but my mom’s antibody count was still way too high, that they wouldn’t transplant from him… so we approached a doctor who has started a fairly recent process in South Africa called ‘desensitisation’."
They worked with the doctor and after various tests and treatments, the physician finally said it was time.
They had to remove the antibodies, a process which drained Wilkinson's plasma.
"Desensitisation involves removing her antibodies… but while you remove her antibodies you take out a lot of her plasma. So she had seven sessions on alternate days. On the on day, she’d have four hours of dialysis, two hours of plasma exchange (or desensitisation), and an additional four hours of an infusion to replenish her plasma."
It was an extremely vigorous and intense process; some very low times and some very few high times… but she handled it like a champ!
On 10 May Wilkinson was finally ready for her transplant, a procedure that took six long hours. Following the operation, M was hospitalised for two days in the ICU and a few extra days in a normal ward.
SAPeople reported M left the hospital on the fourth or fifth day, but Wilkinson is still recovering in the medical facility.
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