I am a father of three, two sons and a daughter. My eldest son and daughter were both adopted by me when they were two and four years old. My youngest son was born on my birthday the 22nd September, he is now 25 years old. My daughter has gifted us with two more additions to the family. I was born in South Africa to a German father and South African mother. I have a brother who is one year older and a half brother from my mothers second marriage. Sadly though, he committed suicide in 2013 while living in Denmark. After high school I served 2 years in the South African Medical Services. I served a year on the border during the border war and my last year as an Intensive Care Orderly at 1 Military hospital in Pretoria. I have just turned 50 but definitely do not feel it. I am very young at heart and in spirit. I am an artist but have applied my mind to various job opportunities over the years. I prefer to work for myself and ultimately set up my own interior decor and design business which was my love and passion. I had to close my business down in July 2009 due to my diagnosis a year before. My inspiration comes from the outdoors, wildlife, pets, family, adventure and traveling. I have big dreams and aspirations. I was very involved in sports growing up and took to motorcycle riding in 2013 which words cannot explain the freedom and joy while riding through this beautiful Cape Town. Everything that defines me today came at a very dear price and very hard emotional work. In 2008 everything I had hoped for and loved with all of my being changed while sitting opposite my Doctor with just a dark stained desk between us. In front of him was my folder which held the results of tests I had undergone just weeks earlier.
I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis which, is a terminal and incurable lung disease. For unexplained reasons the lungs start to fill with fibrosis (scar tissue) and will continue to do so until one can no longer breath. There is currently no cure for the disease and the only treatment available is to slow the progression of the fibrosis as much as possible and ultimately a lung transplant. In my case the cause is unknown. Even after extensive testing, the Doctors and specialists are unable to explain what could have caused the disease. The average survival rate is 2.5 to 5 years. I am now nine years down the road from the beginning of that journey and having to depend on 10 liters of supplemental oxygen 24/7. I rarely leave the apartment but, try keep my mind busy with my art and craft work. I am also writing a book about my experience as well as manage a facebook forum for sufferers of interstitial lung disease.
Living each day with the idea of dying does put things into perspective. I have been truly blessed along the way and the highlight was getting married on the 10th April 2016. With every miracle that passed, my hope for a longer life increased but the reality was never going to be that unless I had a lung transplant which was in my case impossible. I am a state patient and no state hospital performs lung transplants. In private care it would cost me around two million rand, which is so far from anything I could raise in this country. I had absolutely resigned myself to the idea that I did not have much longer to go and was as prepared for it as anyone can be. It was on a Tuesday the 14th of November 2017 at my usual lung function test at Groote Schuur that I received the most unbelievable news. Groote Schuur hospital is now officially starting a lung transplant program and I was asked if I was willing to participate. Despite all the risks and the mountain of challenges ahead I could not refuse a second chance at life. For a week after that I could not think of anything other than what it would mean for me to lead a normal life if all goes well. I am still planning all the things I could do and how much I will enjoy seeing my grandchildren, being available for my sons wedding or his first child. Living a normal life with my wife. Writing my book and working on my art and design ideas. It is almost impossible to imagine the sense of being part of life again. It is at this point though that I have to be realistic and despite my joy come back to earth and plan how I am going to adjust financially to everything. Over the years I have given up everything. I live in a furnished apartment, have no car or savings whatsoever. I have been supported by friends financially with a little income coming in from family and my art. A lung transplant is one of the riskiest transplants to undergo and the post operative care can take up to a year. This is where you all come in, where I have to come to you, hat in hand and ask for financial help. The funds I raise will be put towards any medical costs and equipments not covered by the hospital. I will need to cover the costs of my caregiver as she will be working a full day from January 2018. To purchase a portable oxygen concentrator and for a small vehicle to get to the hospital and back as the visits will be very regular. Once I am on the transplant list which should be in January 2018 it could take anything from one week to two years before a donor is available. I have calculated costs to include initial purchases and monthly expenses for one year. My hope is that it all happens sooner rather than later. To ask you to reach into your pockets and contribute to my good fortune is one of the hardest and most humbling things I have ever had to do in my life. It has taken me weeks if not months to gather up the courage to do this. I leave it in your hands now and ask you kindly to either donate or to share so that I can have another shot at life with my children and wife. Love and kindness to you all.