Thankful for ‘gift’ of life

Summer Greens Neighbourhood Watch donated R2 000 towards Dee Tyekus medical bills. Ms Tyeku recently had her kidney replaced after years of dialysis treatment. From left are Feerouza Kruger, Ms Tyeku, Steven Stenekamp and Reagan Croeser.

Summer Greens Neighbourhood Watch (SGNW) has donated some of its annual fund-raiser money to one of its own who is battling a mountain of medical bills.

After being on dialysis for eight years, Dee Tyeku was given a second chance at life when she got a new kidney in September.

Fittingly calling the new kidney “Gift”, Ms Tyeku, a single mother of two from Summer Greens, is grateful for her new lease on life but says her medical bills are coming in thick and fast.

Due to her condition, Ms Tyeku, a watch member since 2015, is not able to work and relies on her disability grant to see her through the month.

She also gets child grants for her two sons, aged 12 and nine.

The money is used to pay her medical aid, life policy, education policy for her children and school transport.

She is on an aunt’s medical aid but says there are extra costs such as anti-rejection medication that the medical aid does not cover.

Ms Tyeku was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure in 2004. At the time, she was living in England. She said doctors told her she needed dialysis but they would only start her on it when her kidney was functioning at 10%.

In the meantime, she was given intravenous iron infusions and had blood tests done every three months.

Eventually in 2010, she started dialysis in England. She had to be monitored closely with both her pregnancies but spent the most part of her second pregnancy in hospital. “You can’t really show the kids you are stressed or sick because they then stress,” she said.

In 2011, her mother, who was also living in England, decided to move back to South Africa. Ms Tyeku and her children decided to move back too. But Ms Tyeku was unable to secure dialysis treatment for herself at Tygerberg and Groote Schuur hospitals. Her aunt agreed to put her on her medical aid, but because it had a 12-month exclusion policy on pre-existing medical conditions, Ms Tyeku had no choice but to stay in England, where she could still get treatment, for that year, while her mother and children moved back home.

After the transplant at UCT Private Academic Hospital in September, Ms Tyeku still had to go for dialysis for two weeks at the hospital because the kidney was showing signs of rejection.

She said she was also still trying to get used to peeing again.

“I had not peed for three years. The bladder shrinks if you don’t use it for long so even when it fills with 20 millilitres you have to run to the toilet,” she said.

SGNW donated R2 000 from money raised at the watch’s annual awards evening held on Saturday November 3.

“It’s only a drop in the ocean, but we try our best to be there for our members. Dee has a great spirit and she’s a real fighter and we’re lucky to have her in our watch,” said SGNW chairman Reagan Croeser.

Ms Tyeku said she was touched by the gesture and had used the money to pay some medical bills.