Mbali Mbatha thanks God to be alive after lung transplanting
Mbali Mbatha is thrilled to be back home together with her husband, Sizwe Mthiyane, and baby Kuhle. The last item she remembered was how very cold it had been when she was wheeled into the operating room for an emergency C-section. Next thing she awakened, confused and disoriented at being during a room with a nurse trying handy something to her. Between those two moments, two months had passed. therein time Mbali Mbatha had born to a healthy daughter – and made history because the first recipient of a Covid-19-related lung transplant. But Mbali (27) knew nothing about it until she was brought out of a medically induced coma in February. She gave birth on 1 December and remembers how scared she was. “I felt so alone – my husband couldn’t be with me and that i didn’t even get to ascertain my baby,” she tells YOU. “I gave birth and passed out.” A local publication understands that Mbali tested positive for Covid-19 and was admitted to hospital on 23 November last year because she was battling to breathe. She had no comorbidities and was a non-smoker and fit, but doctors were concerned about her ability to breathe properly. They advised her to possess a C-section when she was 30 weeks into her pregnancy after she contracted pneumonia as a results of Covid-19. “My obstetrician said they needed to organize me for a C-section,” she says. If she went into labour while struggling to breathe, the danger would be too high for her and her baby, she was told. “I was scared for my baby’s life. i used to be given a moment to call my husband, then i used to be whisked into the operating room.” Sizwe Mthiyane (37) feared for his wife and unborn child, and what was meant to be their first festive season preparing to be new parents became a nerve-racking nightmare for him. “There wasn’t each day that I didn’t visit my wife and child. Day in and outing I watched Mbali lying there, showing no sign of recovery. it had been the worst festive season,” Sizwe says. WHEN businessman and pastor Sizwe first laid eyes on Mbali in June 2016, he knew she was the one. Six months later the lovebirds, who sleep in Winchester Hills, Johannesburg, wed, and 4 years later they were thrilled when Mbali conceived. “It was a planned pregnancy and that we had arranged for a natural delivery,” says Mbali, a former office manager. “We couldn’t wait to satisfy our baby.” Having to possess an emergency C-section “was an enormous let-down”, says Mbali, who had her heart assail a natural delivery. When doctors told her their baby needed to be delivered, she called her husband. “Sizwe reassured me over the phone that it had been important for them to urge the baby out safely. But i used to be alone, scared and devastated,” she recalls. Tears swell as she remembers that day. “It was so cold. The last item I remember is parturition to our daughter before passing out. i actually don’t wish to remember thereto traumatic time.” After parturition Mbali was transferred from Netcare Park Lane Hospital to Netcare Milpark Hospital, which offers specialised treatment for respiratory and cardiac issues. She was placed on a man-made lung then put into a medically induced coma. “Mbali recovered from Covid-19 but her lungs didn’t recover,” explains pulmonologist Dr Paul Williams. “One of the complications of the virus is that it sometimes damages the lungs extensively. In Mbali’s case the damage was irreversible. Her only chance of survival was to receive a donor lung.” Meanwhile, healthy baby Kuhle, who’d been within the neonatal medical care unit, was discharged from the hospital after 36 days and went home to be taken care of by her dad and Mbali’s mom, Christine Mbatha. Remarkably, one week after being placed on the donor roll there was a match for Mbali. Sizwe didn’t hesitate to offer his consent for the transplant. “I was informed of a possible procedure that was getting to happen, but the doctors couldn’t give any guarantees. “It was worth an attempt,” he recalls. “I still remember the primary day I saw Mbali therein coma. I said to her, ‘You are the sickest person I even have ever seen’, but Mbali’s mom, Christine, and Sizwe took care of Kuhle while Mbali was in hospital. She’s made history because the first recipient of a Covid-19-related lung transplant. you’re also getting to be the best miracle I even have ever seen. we’ll walk out of this hospital together’.” THE lung transplant operation wasn’t only a hit, it had been “a remarkable and miraculous situation”, says Dr Williams. “It’s so rare.” It’s very unusual for recipients to be matched with donors within days, especially as there’s a shortage of organs for transplant. Mbali’s op saw her become the primary Covid-19 patient to become a donor lung recipient in Africa. Only about 100 such ops are performed worldwide within the past year. and through lockdown many operations were placed on hold to scale back the likelihood of the coronavirus infecting patients. Mbali remembers feeling extremely confused when she awakened. A nurse was next to her bed and she or he was given something to gargle with but she felt weak, which was frustrating for her. Mbali was overcome with emotion when Sizwe told her about the transplant, knowing that if it hadn’t been for the donor she would have died. “When i used to be told I’d been during a coma for 2 months and received a replacement lung I couldn’t believe it. I’m so grateful for the care I received from the medical staff and hospital staff.” Mbali was discharged on 30 March and returned home to carry her daughter for the primary time, a sense she says was “indescribable”. Being immobile weakened her body and she’s had to relearn the way to do even the only tasks. “I had to find out everything from scratch, and sometimes it had been discouraging because it’s simple things i used to be struggling to try to to for myself, like clothe my baby and carry her. “Thankfully my mother and husband are so helpful.” Mbali has had physiotherapy to assist her learn to breathe independently as she’s spent such a lot time breathing with the assistance of machines that her diaphragm has “forgotten” the way to function normally, Sizwe explains. The physiotherapy is additionally to assist her regain control of straightforward body movements, like sitting up, getting out of bed, walking up stairs and running. She’s relishing every moment of being a mom. “Being ready to bond with my daughter and spend time together with her is priceless. I don’t take it without any consideration.” The couple urge people to require Covid-19 seriously. They don’t skills Mbali got the virus. Neither Sizwe nor the other relatives contracted it. Dr Williams, meanwhile, is encouraging more people to become organ donors. “There’s a shortage of organs in South Africa and Covid-19 has only made it worse. The gift of donating your organs is actually priceless.” Mbali will need to take medication to prevent her body rejecting the organ. “I’m forever a patient now and I’ll be taking medication for as long as I live.” But it’s alittle price to pay to ascertain Kuhle get older.