Chantal Davids with husband Zane and their
Chantal Davids has a new lease on life after having an ABO-incompatible (ABOi) kidney transplant a year ago.

She had the surgery at the UCT Private Academic Hospital. The operation, a first for the hospital, was led by transplant surgeon Professor Elmi Muller. A good friend of her mother's, Dr Faiza Toefy, was the donor.

Davids’s mother, Avril Cloete, died from kidney disease in 2009 so when Toefy heard Davids also had the disease and had been on the kidney waiting list for three years, Toefy came forward for her. Usually donor and recipient are compatible, but the procedure went ahead although Toefy’s blood type is B+ and Davids' is O+.

After the operation, she had an episode of severe rejection, but it was rectified with escalated plasma-pheresis and drug treatment. A year on, Davids, a schoolteacher married to Zane Davids and with a six-year-old son, Adam, said she has not felt this good in ages.

Before the transplant she had been extremely tired. “I struggled to do anything except go to work and do dialysis. I had to eat specific things and drink a certain amount of water or I would be overloaded.

"I had a catheter in my tummy. I could never swim, I couldn’t shower. I could bath in a small amount of water, but I had to be careful.”

Although her kidney function is not 100% because of the rejection episode, she no longer needs dialysis.

The family had not been able to go on holiday as there was too many things to consider for her condition. But two months post-transplant they went to Sun City. “Being able to jump into the pool was great,” she said.

She started doing water Pilates, joined a running group and now runs 5km once a week.

“I don’t know what my future holds with this transplant, but I live for now, do the best and focus on the positive.”

The biggest lesson was not to take anything for granted. “I appreciate the little things. My life has changed completely.”

And she is eternally grateful to Toefy, her “earth angel”.