A Lansdowne couple whose 22-year-old daughter is fighting for her life after a debilitating auto-immune disease left her with end-stage kidney failure, are racing against the clock to raise more than R500 000 they need for private hospital treatment they believe could save her.
Six months ago, when she was diagnosed, a doctor at Groote Schuur Hospital told the family he could find a hospice where Saa-rah Gabriels could die “at your own pace”.
But that’s not good enough for her mother, Jani Manan, and stepfather, Faried Manan, who are frantically raising funds after a private hospital said she could have a kidney transplant to secure her another 10 years of life.
For seven years, Gabriels has been battling lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus). The cause of the disease is unknown, and there is no cure.
Her mother describes the past seven years as a roller-coaster ride for the family, not least because of the medical bills that have fast stacked up.
Gabriels undergoes dialysis three times a week at Kingsbury Hospital, at R900 a session.
She is no longer being treated at Groote Schuur, after specialists in the public health sector deemed that after six years of treatment, her illness had progressed to the point where long-term treatment “for consideration of a kidney transplant was not feasible”.
That’s according to Alaric Jacobs, Groote Schuur public relations manager.
Last year, Charles Swanepoel, director of the Cape Town Kidney and Dialysis Centre and an associate professor in Groote Schuur’s renal unit, was reported as saying that funding constraints and staff shortages forced them to turn down about 40 percent of renal patients for dialysis.
Jacobs said Groote Schuur took many factors into account when reviewing patients for treatment.
The family had been counselled extensively, and it was made clear that cost had never been an indicator for refusing Gabriels treatment.
But the Manans said Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital had told them Gabriels had an option of a kidney transplant.
The costs of tests for this, and the operation itself, mean the family are looking at R500 000 “and counting”.