GIFT OF LIFE: Hillcrest mother Janet Legemaate with her son, Matthew, who underwent transplant surgery this week.
DURBAN - FRIDAY saw an outpouring of best wishes, support and prayers as Matthew Legemaate, 19, from Hillcrest underwent a double lung and heart transplant this week.

Matthew has fought for life since his birth when he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and pulmonary artesia. He wasn't expected to make it through that night, but underwent surgery and since then his determination has seen him grow up and become an advocate for organ donation. 

When he was 13, he was put on the waiting list for a heart and bi-lateral lung transplant. Despite his ill health, Matthew ran his Hero777 and Mathews Journey Facebook pages which encouraged others to become organ donors. This week he received his own gift of life.

“Matthew has just received his lifesaving organ transplant. Matthew is now in recovery in ICU, but remains in a critical condition as his body learns to work with new organs.”

The statement requested privacy for the family during the next few weeks. A friend of the Legemaate family, Janine Magree, said Matthew’s campaign had already encouraged nearly 11 000 donors to sign up to be organ donors.

Janine and her family lost their son, 16-year-old Bryn, earlier this year. His organs were donated because he had signed up as a donor after his mother read about Matthew’s condition.

According to the Organ Donor Foundation, organ donors are desperately needed in KwaZulu-Natal, which remains significantly behind other provinces in organ donation. 

For information on organ donation, go to www.odf.org.za

INDEPENDENT ON SATURDAY