Calls to register as an organ donor

Athina May

Kerri Howell glances at her pale hands where her late fiancé, Table View resident, Jaun Bowers’ initials are tattooed. Her voice softens as she recalls the night he died.

His death was caused not by the disease he battled, but through an undetected effect of his chronic kidney disease (CKD) treatment.

Jaun was diagnosed with CKD at the age of 18 and received dialysis treatment three times a week after his first kidney transplant, received from his mother, failed after seven years.

He religiously went for his dialysis treatment, but in March last year he started to complain about pain. It was his fistula, a passageway between an artery and a vein, causing him pain.

“He had been complaining about it and said that he was scared it would burst. We put our full and utmost trust in the doctors, to do what is best for him, but they just left it,” said Jaun’s mother, Table View resident Hayley Bowers.

The surgeon told Jaun that his arm was swollen due to an infection, but continued with his dialysis treatment which he received on Wednesday March 25 for the last time. On Thursday March 26 Jaun’s fistula burst and he passed away.

“The Wednesday he went for his dialysis, and the next morning he died. I woke up that morning and he was screaming because his fistula had burst, there was blood everywhere and I got him into the car and drove to hospital, but he died on the way.

“The hospital never phoned to say sorry. They couldn’t even do a 10 minute fistula exam to save his life. They just looked at it and didn’t do anything,” said Kerri.

Months before Jaun’s death, Kerri found out that she was a perfect match to assist Jaun with a kidney, and the couple planned to get married before they had the operation, but the date for his operation was never set.

“He was such a big person, he is so irreplaceable and he had a senseless death,” said Kerri.

Both Kerri and Hayley experienced the suffering that come with caring for a loved one with CKD.

It has been estimated that as much as 15% of the South African population suffer from CKD. However, resources to support sufferers are limited, and many get turned away from receiving treatment.

“I begged and cried and pleaded for Jaun to be put on the dialysis programme (at a government hospital) after his kidney transplant failed and eventually they accepted him. When you’re on the programme you pay less for the treatment, but many people get turned away,” said Hayley.

“Jaun saw how unfair it was as many people got sent home to die.”

“His dialysis cost up to R3 000 to R4 000 a week and many people cannot afford it,” added Kerri.

In memory of Jaun and those suffering from the disease, Hayley and Kerri established the Jaun Bowers Foundation with the hope of creating a dialysis clinic to help those in need.

In honour of World Kidney Day on Thursday March 10, the organisation will host educational talks to inform people about the severity of the disease and how they can help assist through becoming an organ donor.

“It’s very important to register as an organ donor and it will take only two minutes to do it online. There is only 3% chance of getting an organ in South Africa,” said Kerri.

* If anyone would like to find out about the organisation or donate to the foundation, contact Kerri Howell at 076 286 6844.