New heart the beginning of a new life

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Hanro and Marzaan Nel PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

The waiting period for a heart transplant is usually quite long. Some patients wait for as long as eight years to get a new heart. Fortunately that was not necessary in the case of Bloemfontein resident, Hanro Nel.

Nel was working as a sales rep, living a perfectly normal life with no history of any heart condition in his family, when his life took a sudden turn. After visiting the doctor when not feeling well, he had to hear that his heart was only on a 16% working capacity.
In September 2016, after battling with flu from which he just couldn’t recover, Nel’s wife, Marzaan, advised him to consult a doctor. She said, “After many consultations, the doctor kept on telling us that it was an asthma problem. My husband’s condition became worse and I advised him to ask the opinion of another doctor, who immediately realised there was a big problem. Hanro was sent to a cardiologist where they found out that he was suffering from cardiomyopathy.”

The couple told Bloemfontein Courant how the process of getting a new heart proved to be not as easy as it sounds. “One has to go through a careful screening process before being placed on a transplant waiting list. A team of heart doctors, nurses, social workers and bioethicists review your medical history, diagnostic test results, social history and psychological test results to see if you are able to survive the procedure and will then comply with the continuous care needed to live a healthy life,” Nel said.

He was placed on special medication, his health improved, and he was removed from the list. However, after being involved in a car accident last year and breaking his knees, his heart suffered a setback and he was back on the list. Nel said, “The actual waiting time was about four months and was not that bad for me at first. In January, however, it started getting a bit long. I remember how, whenever the phone rang, I became jittery while at the same time wanting it to be the call for a new heart.”

Nel is on the way to recovery and is grateful for the support of his wife and two children. He told Courant, “I realise now that early treatment can save your life and regular checkups give you the chance to talk to your doctor about your risks, habits, and how to make heart-healthy choices.” His advice is to make sure to have your heart checked at your nearest qualified cardiologist.

Pierce van Heerden

pierce@mahareng.co.za