Transplant Patient Testimony #1

Almost Blind

I could not see any solution to my problem.  In 1998 at the age of 25, I received my first corneal transplant.  Within three days I received a cornea.  Today, 15 years later I still have remarkable vision in my right eye.

For my second cornea I had to wait a long time.  Nor the patience of Job or the wisdom of Solomon would have seen an outcome, but God sometimes has a different road He takes with your life.  With my condition, Keratoconus, my left cornea became very thin and the beautiful cone shape began to protrude which was influencing my sight.  The cornea is the clear window which is responsible for the light that comes into the eye.  Abnormalities in this part of the eye results in difficult sight, double and blurred vision and normal tasks like driving and reading become very difficult.

Without knowing a mole on my face would come to my rescue.  A Plastic Surgeon Dr. G. Edwards in Johannesburg had a vision.  He did not even look at my mole, but only saw my watering eye.  I wasn’t weeping because of the mole on my face, but my left cornea had become so thin, that even a bright light caused my eye to water.  Dr. Edwards did not leave it there but he decided there and then that this watering eye should not be ignored, he literally almost ignored the mole and asked what the problem with my eye was.

At that stage in January 2007, I had already been waiting two and a half years for a cornea donation and the hard contact lenses would not stay on the thinning cornea anymore.  I could not see with my left eye anymore and only depended on my right eye.  Dr. Edwards gave Sr. Lynne Pickering of the Eyebank a call and explained that the mole on my face wasn’t looking good and had to be removed, but that my eye was in a state and I could literally not look him in the eye.

I was luckily on top of the list at that stage and in the wink of an eye I received a corneal transplant (and my mole was removed).  With my two corneal transplants, I could finally realize my dream and in 2010 I enrolled for my PhD in Marketing Management and in 2013 I completed my PhD at the University of Johannesburg.  I am a lecturer at UJ, I drive my four kids to school and extra murals, read, try out new recipes and at the age of 40 I began playing the piano, and I can see the notes!  I live my life to the fullest, as I do not know what lies ahead.

I cannot see into the future.  Neither could Dr. Edwards.  A few years after this doctor took my problems in his hands, he had a massive heart attack in Milpark Hospital and had to receive a heart transplant which saved his life.  Without realizing the seed he sowed when organizing a corneal transplant for me was given back to him when he needed it most.  I underwent a metamorphosis, from hardly being able to see to seeing life all because of a donated cornea.  Thank you for that.

Dr. Isolde Lubbe (Nee Pohl)

Min siende

Min kon ek sien of the oplossing enigsins insien.  In 1998 het ek op 25 jarige ouderdom  my eerste korneaoorplanting gekry.  Dit was woertswarts en drie dae later het ek die kornea gerkry.  Vandag, 15 jaar later het ek nog steeds ongelooflike goeie sig met hierdie regteroog.

Vir my tweede kornea moes ek lank wag.  Nie Job se geduld of Salomo se wysheid sou hierdie uitkoms kon sien nie, maar die Here het soms ‘n snaakse pad wat Hy met jou loop.  Met die kondisie, Keratoconus, het die linker kornea dun begin raak en die mooi koepelvorm ook begin bult wat sig vervaag.  Die kornea is die helder venster wat verantwoordelik is vir die lig wat in die oog inkom.  Abnormaliteite in hierdie deel veroorsaak moeilike sig, dubbelvisie en waserigheid en eenvoudige take soos bestuur en lees begin moeilik word.

Min wetende sou ‘n moese op my gesig my redding wees.  ‘n Plastiese chirurg, Dr. G. Edwards in Johannesburg het visie gehad.  Hy het nie net na my moesie gekyk nie, maar my tranende oog gesien.  Ek het nie trane oof my moesie gestort nie, maar my linkeroog se kornea was op daardie stadium so dun dat selfs ‘n skerp lig my tot tranerigheid gedryf het.  Dr. Edwards het net daar en dan besluit hy gaan nie hierdie trane oor die hoof laat sien nie, my moesie ongesiens gelaat en gevra wat die problem met my oog is.

Op daardie dag in Januarie 2007, het ek reeds twee en ‘n half jaar vir ‘n korneaskenking gewag en my harde kontaklens kon nie meer op die dun kornea bly nie.  Ek kon glad nie meer met my linkeroog sien nie en het net op die regteroog staatgemaak.  Dr. Edwards het Sister Lynne Pickering van die Oogbank gebel en verduidelik dat my moesie glad nie goed daar uitsien nie en veel eerder verwyder sal moet word, maar dat my oog in ‘n toestand is en ek hom letterlik nie in die oë kan kyk nie.

Ek was gelukkig nou al bo-aan die lys en in ‘n oogwink het ek my linker kornea oorplanting gekry (en my moesie is verwyder).  Met twee skenkerkorneas kon ek my drome verwerklik en in 2010 vir my PhD in Bemarkingsbestuur inskryf en in 2013 het ek my PhD graad aan die Universiteit van Johannesburg verwerf.  Ek doseer Bemarking by UJ, ry my vier kinders rond, lees boeke, probeer nuwe resepte uit en ek het op 40 begin leer klarvier speel en ek kan die note sien!  Ek leef die lewe voluit, want ek weet nie wat more voorlê nie.

Ek kan nie die toekoms insien nie.  Dr. Edwards kon ook nie.  ‘n Paar jaar na hierdie dokter my problem in eie hande geneem het, het hy ‘n vreeslike hartaanval in Milpark Hospitaal gekry en moes hy ‘n donar hart kry, wat toe sy lewe gered het.  Mintetende, dat sy hulp-saai op ‘n stadium weer teruggemaai sou word.  Ek het ‘n metamorphose van siende blind, na min siende tot lewenssiende met ‘n skenker se orgaan ondergaan.  Dankie daarvoor.

Dr. Isolde Lubbe (nee Pohl)

Transplant Patient Testimony #2

My name is Tumo Makheta

and I am 26 years old.  In 2008, I was attacked by a gang in Secunda, causing severe injuries to my head and face.  I went to the hospital and had many stitches.
I was referred to a doctor in Bethal, who examined me and said my eye was very damaged.  I kept getting ointment and eye drops from then until 2011.  It became very sore, the colour changed, there was pressure and swelling.

I saw an Ophthalmologist at Mediclinc in Secunda who told me I needed a Corneal Transplant.

I was in despair, as I did not have a job, though I am qualified in Mechanical Engineering.

In April 2012, I contacted the Blind Association in Johannesburg.  They gave me the Gauteng Cornea and Eye Bank’s number.  I persevered for 2 months even though I was told there were over 600 people waiting for a Transplant.

I prayed for a miracle and in June I was blessed in an amazing way.  God heard my prayers, and I received a cornea.

It was a very joyous occasion!  I was invited to speak about “my story” at the Organ Donor Tribute Day on 21st August.  What a privilege.  I am now well on the way of restoring and uplifting the quality of my life.

I thank God, and all the amazing medical team for giving me a second chance.

Transplant Patient Testimony #3

Letter to all donor families

I can never fully explain how a selfless decision to donate one’s organs has impacted my life.

I am a Cornea recipient.

As I have been given the gift of sight, let me try to visually provide a glimpse of the impact my cornea transplants have had on my life.


I always struggled visually at school.  By the time I was in Grade 9 I couldn’t see what was on the blackboard and projector even though I was seated in the front of the class.   Luckily I got my first cornea transplant in Grade 10.  By the time I went to university, seated in the front of the lecture halls, I could see.

The ability to pass my eye tests, get my license and drive.  Something most take for granted.

The wonderful experiences and sights I’ve seen!!

The reality is there are no words or pictures that I can use to fully express what it means to have been given the gift of sight!