Cape Town - Jaycee Cloete’s future looked bleak.
The effervescent rugby player and dancer, then in just Grade 9, had been diagnosed with kidney failure.
As his body weakened, a long wait of up to five years for an organ donor loomed, between hours of dialysis he would have needed, week in, week out.
Until his mother made a simple decision – that it would be she who gave her son a new life.
On Monday, bursting with the joy of a second chance, the 16-year-old told the Cape Argus his story.
“It was Saturday, August 25, 2012, and it was inter-schools – the annual clash between my school, Hottentots Holland High, and Strand High.
“I played two games, for the U15A and B sides.
“My legs pulled up stiff that evening, but we thought it was probably just from sitting on the cold cement steps at the stadium.
“But it happened again on the Sunday.
“And then on Monday at school I collapsed – my legs just gave in. Two boys carried me to the secretary and they phoned my parents.
“I was taken to our house doctor who had a feeling, so checked my urine. It showed moderate proteins and red blood cells – it showed that my kidneys weren’t doing the work they should be doing.”
He was soon treated by kidney specialist Dr Geoff Bihl at Winelands Dialysis Centre at Vergelegen Medi-Clinic, and was later transferred to Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
“Professors from Stellenbosch even came to see me. They knew my kidneys weren’t working, but they couldn’t work out why.”
A year of unsuccessful treatment followed, until the inevitable was accepted: he needed a new kidney, or he could die.
“My brother was the first one to stand up and say that he’ll be my kidney donor, but he was too young then,” he said of his sibling Cody, three years his senior.
His parents, Deon and Porcia, then had their blood tested too and both were found to be compatible. But it was his mother who decided simply: “I would do anything for my child. I didn’t think twice.”
At 7am on December 10, at Chris Barnard Memorial Hospital, she was operated on to harvest her right kidney. She emerged from the theatre at 10.45am, and at 1.30pm Jaycee went under the knife to receive his mother’s precious gift.
She was discharged from hospital two days later, but he spent a full week in ICU, and then a second week in a recuperation ward.
“The kidney could be rejected at any time. And I was also so weak I was on steroids,” he explained.
But his recovery had been seamless.
“Tears were shed through all this, but that’s what a mom is willing to do for her son to survive… Up until this day I still don’t know how to thank her enough,” he said.
l Bihl said there was a severe shortage of kidney donors, and urged people to engage with organ donation organisations such as the Cape Kidney Association and the Organ Donor Foundation. - Cape Argus