Father donates kidney to save daughter

Justin and Rebekah Africa at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Justin Africa, who donated a kidney to his 5-year-old daughter, says he is glad he has been able to give her a chance at a better life.

Rebekah Africa, of Muizenberg, was born with congenital nephrotic syndrome, a condition that is characterised by high levels of protein in the urine and body swelling.

“It’s never something as parents that you want for any of your kids,” said Mr Africa, who was identified as a possible donor for Rebekah. She had been through countless tests, and eight major surgeries, including two nephrectomies, all before the age of 5.

Rebekah received her father’s kidney during an operation in August.

“I was happy that I was able to give my daughter a better chance at life. A life with the possibility of no more plastic objects sticking out of her. All I could think of was the quality of life that my kidney could offer her,” he said.

Professor Mignon McCulloch, head of the renal and organ transplant unit at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, said Rebekah had shown resilience and courage.

Acute kidney failure was more common than chronic kidney failure in children, she said.

“This means that children can experience a rapid loss of kidney function due to periods of untreated diarrhoea, vomiting and urinary tract infections.”

Both acute kidney failure and chronic kidney failure require treatment using medication and dialysis.

“Both treatments support healthy organ function such as the removal of waste from the blood while controlling blood pressure and producing red blood cells.”

At the children’s hospital, dialysis can be done from birth including premature babies and children up to the age of 13.

“We work as a multidisciplinary team who are all well trained in treating children with kidney conditions. Very few centres in the country perform children’s kidney transplants due to its complexity,” said Professor McCulloch.

National Kidney Awareness Week was from Monday September 4 to Friday September 8.

For more information, call the children’s hospital at 021 658 5111.