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Love conquers all: Wife donates kidney to husband


Thabo Michael Mvalo is living proof that love conquers all after the 32-year-old underwent a successful kidney transplant surgery.

Michael Mvalo, his wife Judith and their two children. Picture: Supplied

THABO Michael Mvalo is living proof that love conquers all after the 32-year-old underwent a successful kidney transplant surgery at Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein.

After battling kidney disease for more than five years, Mvalo, a father of two, received the lifesaving gift of a new kidney from his wife Judith on October 26 and is now recovering from his transplant.

Mvalo, who is a soldier at the military base in Kimberley, underwent the life-changing transplant after four unsuccessful attempts.

Miraculously, his 32-year-old wife Judith was a match and was prepared to give him her organ.

Mvalo’s brother had initially agreed to donate his kidney and was also a perfect match. He passed all the tests except, unfortunately, the last one.

Speaking to the DFA, Mvalo, who is at home recovering, thanked his wife, saying that she had given him the gift of life.

“To be honest, I was extremely delighted when my wife made the decision to give me her kidney. She was so brave to donate it. It is because of her that I’m currently at home with my family. I’m happy the transplant was successful.” he said.

The couple have a seven-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter.

He revealed that he was diagnosed with renal failure in 2018 after he had a fall at his work and was rushed to hospital.

“I used to be absolutely fine – fit and healthy – until the day I fell while at work in March 2018. The doctors told me that both my kidneys had stopped functioning. My life has never been the same since that fateful day.”

He said he ignored the signs after the fall and even returned to work.

“I was, however, experiencing swelling on my feet, back of my body and my face. I had diarrhoea and was vomiting. I even slept in the bathroom that night. That’s how I knew that there was something wrong with my body. But I went back to work the next day.

“I was swollen and could not even wear my full work uniform. My supervisor released me and said I can’t work in that condition.

“I went to the sick bay, where the doctor suspected that I might be having kidney failure.”

He said he was referred to 3 Military Hospital in Bloemfontein, which was working with Universitas Hospital.

“I met Dr Van Vuuren, who was working with Dr Bisiwe, and was diagnosed with kidney failure by Dr Bisiwe at Universitas Hospital. I learned that both my kidneys had shut down and that I needed dialysis. I didn’t know what dialysis was until then.

“I was put on dialysis on April 18. That’s when I started feeling much better – lighter body and less swelling and vomiting. I was on the machine three days a week, for four hours.”

He said the doctor advised him to keep up with the dialysis for six months in order to see whether his condition improved.

According to Mvalo, his doctor told him in December 2018 that his condition was not improving and asked him whether there was anyone who was willing to donate a kidney to him.

His younger brother volunteered to donate a kidney and underwent all the tests, until the last test, which he did not qualify for.

“Yoh! It was a very disappointing moment for me because I was positive that everything was going well and I was about to get healed. All that hope I had of getting a second chance vanished.”

He said that after his wife decided to donate one of her kidneys, the doctor advised them to try for another child first.

“In 2019 we only had a boy at that time, so Dr Bisiwe advised us to try for another child first so that we would be having at least two kids after the transplant, and not to consider having more children.

“We agreed and conceived another child, who is our beautiful daughter.

“I was very happy. It was an amazing moment because to me things were going well.”

He said that after the baby was born in 2019 they returned to Dr Bisiwe to start with the kidney transplant process.

The transplant tests process started in September 2019 for him, until January 2020, and then they started with his wife’s tests separately.

He explained that the process became complicated when his appointment expired before his wife was ready for the transplant.

“Then Covid-19 came, everything had to be stopped. It was such a heartbreaking moment because we had to wait for the pandemic to slow down first. I had to be strong and wait.

“After 2021 we started again after we were vaccinated and the Covid-19 came down. We went back to Dr Bisiwe to start. She started the process and tried to push both of us.

“But, unfortunately, the process was prolonged again after they started with me and expired while they were busy preparing my wife.

“We started again in 2022, but this time the doctors realised that both the donor and the recipient should start at the same time to avoid a repetition of the previous attempts.

“That’s when we did everything together, but with different doctors and different hospitals. Everything went smoothly this time and we were called for the date of October 2023 for the transplant.”

Mvalo was full of praise for his wife and expressed his love for her.

“My wife is an angel. She is so amazing. She gave me the ultimate gift of life and a beautiful family. I am incredibly blessed. I love her to the moon and beyond.”

He also thanked the Free State Department of Health and the doctors, as well as the nurses, at Universitas Academic Hospital for the “good work that they are doing there”.

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to publicly thank Dr Feziwe Bisiwe and the incredible multidisciplinary team of doctors and specialists who worked with us during the entire process. They did a marvellous job prior to and post-surgery.

“They are really a group of hard-working people. I really thank God for putting the two teams together. They were good to both me and my wife, everything went well.

“The nursing personnel at Universitas Academic Hospital were also amazing. I want to say a huge thank you to them as well.

“Lastly, I want to thank all my colleagues in the military, my family and friends. They have been with me through thick and thin.”

Mvalo said they are recovering well at home and he can exercise minimally, eat well again and go to the bathroom without any concerns about dialysis anymore.

“I got a second chance in life and my wish is from now on to spend more time with my family, love my wife even more and travel without any worries to book for dialysis.

“It has only been a couple of days since the operation and I’m already able to do some exercises. I’m doing fantastically now. I don’t feel any pain.” he added.

“I no longer have concerns that I can’t go somewhere because there is no space for dialysis, shortages of beds or shortages of machines.

“I am not going to continue living the life that I used to live, I want to enjoy life with my family. That’s what matters now. I thank God for the extension of my life.”

Michael Mvalo underwent successful kidney transplant surgery. Picture: Supplied
Michael Mvalo’s wife Judith and their two children. Picture: Supplied
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