National Renal Care nurse Sr Salome Siebritz went above and beyond the duties of her Nightingale Pledge when she drove a pair of patients from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town in order to ensure they received life-saving kidney transplants in March 2019.
One of the patients, a young woman named Cally Williams has known Siebritz for the five years or so she has been receiving treatment at the NRC Unit at Netcare Cuyler Hospital in Uitenhage.
With the last flight to Cape Town for the day set to take off a mere thirty minutes after the patients learned they were to receive kidney transplants, Siebritz selflessly volunteered to drive both patients the 800km distance to the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital.
Hospital staff in Uitenhage held a quick whip round to ensure Siebritz would have the petrol for the journey to Cape Town.
“There was not a moment to lose, and I immediately phoned Cally to make travelling arrangements as I was concerned that she would miss this opportunity, and had decided that I would drive her to Cape Town myself,” Siebritz told netcare.co.za.
“I called the NRC unit to request petty cash for the petrol money we would need for the 800km drive, and the staff all expressed their desire to contribute towards the costs of the journey. They spontaneously started a collection, and everyone from the doctors to the cleaning staff, as well as a number of patients were eager to make donations to help our two kidney recipients reach Cape Town in time.”
Netcare’s transplant co-ordinator, Alexia Michaelides helped guide Siebritz through the Cape Town traffic and safely to their destination.
Siebritz added: “We were totally lost driving into Cape Town, and I was so grateful to Alexia because she guided us right to the hospital. We arrived with only half an hour to spare before the scheduled surgery. Alexia also arranged that a nurse from the hospital would to be ready to drive the other patient to the nearby Groote Schuur Hospital as soon as we arrived. It was a huge relief to realise that we had made it in time after our drive through the night.”
Michaelides revealed that she too had a connection with Port Elizabeth and heralded the community spirit of the folks from the friendly city.
(Left to right) Following the successful kidney transplant for patient Cally Williams, Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital enrolled nurse, Margaret Dankers who cared for Cally in hospital, is pictured with National Renal Care’s Sr Salome Siebritz; the patient’s aunt, Mercia Heilbron; and Netcare’s transplant co-ordinator, Alexia Michaelides.
“It was critical for both patients that they reached the hospitals within the strict timeframe for the transplants to be viable. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Sr Siebritz and everyone who donated funds towards their travel, they were able to reach the hospital in time. I am also from Port Elizabeth originally, and there really is a strong community spirit among people from this part of the world,” Michaelides added.
Mercia Heilbron, who is Cally’s aunt and primary caregiver was deeply moved by the efforts of all involved from Siebritz, to the donor and their family.
“My niece, Cally Williams, has been reliant on dialysis for many years after suffering kidney failure. She has been on the waiting list for a donor kidney since 2013, and when that telephone call finally came we were overcome with emotion. For our family, this was nothing short of a miracle,” she said.
“After we received the news, we were desperately trying to find a way to get Cally to Cape Town in time or else Cally’s chance to receive this life-saving transplant would be lost.”
“As a family, our most profound thanks goes to the donor, who during their lifetime made the decision to offer others a chance at life through registering as an organ donor. Although we do not know the donor’s name, we will forever give our thanks for the donor and the donor’s family, who at the most painful time had the generosity of spirit to honour their loved one’s wish for organs to be donated so that other people could live.”
Mercia herself is registered as an organ donor with the Organ Donor Foundation, and encourages others to consider doing the same.
To register as an organ donor or for more information contact the Organ Donor Foundation on their toll free number, 0800 22 66 11, or visit https://www.odf.org.za.
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