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My Transplant Journey: Meena Singh

By Organ Donor Foundation

Meena is mother to 2 amazing children, a transplant warrior & organ donor activist.

Her story: Some 17 years ago, I was blessed with the ultimate gift - the gift of life - in the form of a lifesaving liver transplant, made possible by one person's selfless decision to become an organ donor & by the family who honoured their loved one’s final wish. This unsung heroine died & in doing so ensured that I would live. That her family could honour her wishes while experiencing such traumatic grief, moves me more than I can say. My liver transplant has been the single most definitive moment of my life. It has made me value life, love, family & friends in a way I hadn't done before. That I am here to send this, is testament to the incredibly unselfish support received from family & friends.

My road to the transplant was quite difficult. Some nine years earlier I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. My immune system attacked the bile ducts in my liver. This caused bile to seep into the liver causing cirrhosis & into my bloodstream causing intense itching. As the condition progressed, I became noticeably thinner, jaundiced & fatigued. I looked anorexic, had very yellow eyes & skin and was fatigued to the point of being almost totally inactive. Even the smallest task sapped what little energy I had. Doctors also discovered a second underlying condition called autoimmune hepatitis. This just added to the difficulty I was experiencing & further damaged the liver.

I was referred to the transplant team at Donald Gordon Medical Centre by my specialist at the time. After my initial consultation with the hepatologist & blood test results, it was decided that I qualified for a liver transplant & I was listed for it on 8 February 2006. I was told to pack a bag for hospital & wait. The wait could be 6 months or 6 years! Feeling a bit surreal, I did that & did not even remotely consider the chance that a donor would be found quickly. When I got 'the call' on 11 March 2006, my initial reaction was shock & disbelief because I had been listed for such a short time! Then I was just in awe that I would be given this life changing opportunity & blessing. I felt very positive going into theatre as I knew there was immense potential for this to change my life. I was grateful that I was being given a chance to see my children grow up.

Life after my transplant is just that: life! It is no longer a meaningless existence dominated by fatigue, pain & fear. I’m able to really enjoy life again. After the transplant, I no longer need to plan & prevaricate around the simplest tasks. It is so wonderful to be able to do things spontaneously & to commit to causes that I really believe in. Creating awareness of organ & tissue donation is a cause that I am passionate about & totally committed to. To this end, I was a volunteer for over 9 years and now work for the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa.

My advice to people waiting for a transplant is: Never lose hope!

Organ Donor Foundation (ODF)

The Organ Donor Foundation (ODF) is an awareness organisation dedicated to promoting organ and tissue donation. Whether you donate blood regularly, shave your head or wear colourful streaks in your hair to support cancer patients, or signed up as a stem cell donor, then you’ve probably considered organ donation.

Did you know one organ donor can save seven lives? You can help save or improve the lives of up to 70 people with your tissue.

Organ donation leaves a legacy, and the gift of hope extending beyond one’s own lifetime.

South Africa is a world leader in the field of organ transplantation; just think back to Professor Christiaan Barnard and the first heart transplant, yet the number of patients awaiting transplants continues to drastically increase.

Registering as a donor cost nothing and requires no medical tests, but remember to discuss your decision with your family, as your next of kin will be required to give consent at the time of your passing.

Register at or call Tel: 0800 22 66 11 (toll free)

Seven important points to note:

1. It costs you nothing to sign up as an organ donor.

2. Having a medical condition doesn’t prevent you becoming a donor. The decision about which organs or tissue will be transplanted is made at your time of death.

3. You don’t need any medical tests to sign up as an organ donor. Medical tests are done at the time of death.

4. Organ donation does not delay funeral proceedings or leave the body disfigured.

5. Most religions support organ and tissue donation as it is consistent with life preservation. If you’re unsure, you should talk to your spiritual leader.

6. You can change your mind about donating your organs at any time.

7. For a transplant to take place, a donor should have a matching blood type, and meet a range of criteria such as tissue typing and antibody cross-matching that match a recipient. This is a complex process and can often disqualify a potential donor if a matching recipient cannot be

found. Therefor it is critical that the pool of available donors is bigger to increase the chances for a suitable match.

Please consider organ donation. Its quick and easy to save 7 lives and help up to 50 people.


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