*August is organ donor awareness month – if you would like to register please go to www.odf.org.za/organ-donor-registration
I was born with 3 holes in my heart, a missing tricuspid valve, an irregular & fast heart beat and narrowed arteries between the heart and lungs, so my chances of survival were minimal. As a child I would get tired and out of breath very quickly, especially when trying to join in with physical activity. From age 12, I had to sit out on physical activity all together.
At the age of 14 I suffered heart failure and collapsed. I was rushed to hospital and resuscitated. My heart had been working so hard and grown so large that the cells that carry the electric impulses to make the heart beat had stretched too much to be able to carry an impulse. I was fitted with a pacemaker to ensure that if the natural impulse didn’t happen, a mechanical one would. It took me a long time to recover from the operation and I spent the majority of my Std 7 (Grade 9) year at home.
I was unable to finish school at a my regular High School as walking up and down 3 flights of stairs to get to and from classes proved too much for me. After being homeschooled I began to study Public Relations, but by the time my second year of my degree course came, I was starting to struggle again. Doctors decided it best to replace my pacemaker. Unfortunately it took me even longer to recover from this operation than the first. In fact I never returned to my previous physical vigour. The damage to my heart, lungs and other organs was starting to show and take its toll.
I was now starting to sleep more than 18 hours a day and struggled to complete the simple tasks of brushing and washing my hair, bathing, eating and walking. I began to get pains in my chest and had constant headaches.
Essentially bed bound and dependant on my parents for everything, I even decided to shave off my hair as it was too much work and effort to even brush it every day! On permanent oxygen and using a wheel chair when going out of the house, I had lost quality of life to such an extent that just breathing was a battle. This is when I went onto the South African Transplant List. There were no other treatments open to me.
After a wait of 2 and a half years, I got my transplant and became the sixth person in South Africa to have had a heart and bilateral lung transplant. I am currently the longest living person in Africa to have had this transplant.
The transplant has changed my life from being bed bound to living a full and active life. I have been able to study to become a certified life coach so that I can help those waiting for transplant or surgery. I’ve taken part in 2 cycle events, competed in the Arnold Classic Africa Model Search and am an avid ambassador for organ donation, healthy living and keeping your body fit & strong!
Q: What drives you?
My passion for helping others and my absolute belief that my purpose in life is to help. I don’t ever want anyone to face what I have faced alone.
Q: What and who inspires you?
So many things! The wonder of life and being alive inspire me every day to do my best. Perhaps because I truly appreciate how fragile life is and how quickly it can be lost.
Q: Why should someone sign up to become an organ donor?
By being an organ & tissue donor, a single person can save up to 57 lives! If you truly want to leave a legacy and be a hero, the best way is to be a donor.
Q: How did you decide to become a Life Coach, and what does it mean to be a Life Coach?
I whole heartedly believe that the road I have travelled is for a reason and that is to help others. I felt the best way to do that was to become a life coach.
The purpose of a life coach is not to question your past or find blame, but to help you accept what has happened or where you find yourself now and to enable you to see things from a different perspective while helping you to navigate a successful way forward with the relevant tools and techniques. A life coach believes you are capable of everything and is your biggest cheerleader!
Q: Who can benefit from working with you?
Any woman who feels lost, hopeless or stagnant in life, as well as women who are facing surgery or have received a terminal diagnosis.
Q: How do you self-care?
My favourite way to look after myself is to sit and have a cup of tea in a spot with a great view! I do this 2 or 3 times a day, for 10mins at a time in my garden. It really helps me to gather my thoughts, check in with myself and calm me. It’s like a mini holiday!
People don’t realise that something so quick and simple can be classified as self-care. But it really can change your life!
Q: How do you keep a balanced and healthy lifestyle?
By making time! The trick to balance is knowing that life will always be a seesaw. There will always be more of some things and less than others. However, by scheduling in the most important things (including rest, self-care & family / fun time) and then sticking to it, we have more chance of fitting it all in and keeping sane!
Tina is a Hope Coach and Inspirational speaker, and you can find out more or get in touch below: