Vashti’s search for a kidney donor

Vashti Folscher suffers from renal failure.

Vashti Folscher suffers from renal failure and if she does not get a kidney transplant soon she might die.

This is the brutal reality Ms Folscher, who recently turned 40, wakes up to every day.

The Table View resident tells Tabletalk about her search for a donor from her hospital bed at Christiaan Barnard Hospital where she has been for nearly a month now.

Although her yellowish complexion is testament to her failing health, it does not stop her from flashing a friendly smile. As a nurse injects her arm, she does not flinch – the needle pricks and checks an unfortunate and inevitable consequence of her condition.

Ms Folscher explained her fistula stopped working in her left arm which meant she could not get her dialysis treatments. She has about three weekly treatments at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital in Sunningdale.

She was hospitalised a few days later and had a temporary groin catheter and neck catheter put in. One fistula had already been rerouted in May.

The scars of the numerous operations she’s endured throughout the years are visible. “I was hectically panicking. I was feeling terrible. It had been a week since my last dialysis,” said Ms Folscher.

At the moment she is also fighting an infection in her body and doctors had to cultivate blood to find out where it’s coming from. She said she can only receive blood and a kidney from someone with the O+ blood type or the O- blood type but even then Ms Folscher said she would not be out of the woods yet.

“My body might reject the kidney or the medical board could decide I’m not transplantable and turn me down as a candidate for a kidney.

“But my kidneys will never work on their own again. If I don’t get a donor and if I’m not transplantable I’ll have to stay on dialysis for the rest of my life.”

Ms Folscher was diagnosed with juvenile onset diabetes at nine years old. Later in her teens she battled with an eating disorder which “flamed up in her twenties”.

The combination of being diabetic and having an eating disorder put a strain on her organs, she admits. Now she struggles with vascular disease. “Even getting a drip up is not an easy task.”

Her medical aid bill is roughly R5 000 a month and because her illness has rendered her unfit to work, she depends on donations from friends and family who club together each month to pay it. Words cannot explain her gratitude to those who are helping, she said.

“I’m just so grateful and blessed. It could have been completely different. If I were on a lower medical aid plan I wouldn’t be covered for everything I need.”

So far two people have tested to see if they could be possible donors. One was a stranger that has since become a friend of Ms Folscher’s. Unfortunately, in both cases, they were not a match. Yet as fragile as her body may be, Ms Folscher possesses a spirit that cannot be defeated and still allows herself to dream of a better future. Travelling, finding a life partner and adopting a child is at the top of the list.

“I don’t know if I’d ever get married but I’d like to settle with someone and maybe adopt. I would definitely like to work with children, whether it’s orphans or abandoned children. I would love to go travel again.”

Ms Folscher’s family live in the Far East and are not able to visit as often as they’d like. Ms Folscher said that’s where she’d be headed first if she had the opportunity.

She said her illness has made her appreciate the little things in life others take for granted.

“People take so many things for granted. It’s the smaller things that count. Just looking at the ocean or a flower. You realise there are so many other things that are important. Hold onto your roots and hold onto God”.

Ms Folscher’s transplant co-ordinator Margaret Fourie said people who were willing to do the transplant first needed to find out what their blood type was. If they were a match to Ms Folscher, a series of tests would follow to see if they were healthy enough to undergo the transplant.

“There would be no cost to the donor. The recipient’s medical aid would pay for everything,” said Ms Fourie. For more information call Ms Fourie at 082 942 1080 or email to margaret.fourie@netcare.co.za