After going under the knife more than 30 times with kidney-related issues, Shaali Iipinge finally went through a successful kidney transplant in South Africa on 27 October 2022.
Although the donor developed some complications after the operation, they are recovering well after the operation, which was done at The Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (WDGMC) in Johannesburg.
This publication reported in 2020 that Iipinge who is now 14-years-old was suffering from chronic renal failure and was diagnosed with a posterior urethral valve and had to undergo an operation at the age of three to help release the pressure on his kidney.
The mother, Pauline Chigumbu said Iipinge who is a twin was not passing urine and it went back to the kidney, which ended up destroying it. His twin sister has no issues.
“Iipinge is doing very well after the operation. The doctors didn’t expect him to recover this fast and medical professionals in South Africa, even say that in their whole careers, they have never seen a child recover so fast from a major operation,” shared the still-overjoyed mother.
Chigumbu said she was initially informed that her son had bladder issues but over time, it developed and in 2017, that is when the kidneys shut down and they started dialysis.
“It’s a deeply emotional rollercoaster.
Over and all, we are not going to put a number on a person’s life but this operation inclusive of stays in South Africa cost more than N$1 million. Namibians when we did the story in 2020 came through, I don’t want to mention the names as I might forget some but they came through with donations,” said the humble Chigumbu.
She said the operation was scheduled for November 2021 but she and the donor tested positive for Covid-19. She had an additional health issue that couldn’t allow her to be the caretaker once the transplant was done.
Iipinge also got Covid-19.
To those going through the same process of getting donors and gathering funds for a similar operation, Chigumbu said, “have hope. Seek out and reach people who can assist.
“I also want to reach out to potential donors so that there is no fear in living with one kidney. It can change somebody’s life. I just want to encourage Namibia, I know that we have a transplant centre in the north, but also maybe establish a transplant centre for children,” she suggested.
The donor who prefers not to be named said they felt obliged to help Iipinge.
“I felt compassionate for Iipinge. The operation went well on his part but I got some complications, so I had to be reoperated three days later. It was a painful process but I am trying to recover,” said the soft-spoken donor.
They said donating organs is not a train smash but it is something that should be
taken as a conviction.
“This is something that must be viewed from a spiritual point of view. I feel when God created a person, he deliberately gave two kidneys, knowing they can help another person,” the donor stated.
They mentioned that African governments should invest more in healthcare as such transplants can be done in the country as well.
The first recorded kidney transplant in Namibia was carried out at the Ongwediva Medipark in 2016 on a 59-year-old who got the organ from his 20-year-old son.
“I believe the Namibian government has to pull up its socks and establish adequate transplant units,” they said.
The donor believes although they did not anticipate the outcome of the operation, many issues happened that could have broken them but mentally, they accepted the results and it is now a work in progress to full recovery.
The energetic and well-spoken Iipinge said he was happy about the operation,
loved South Africa, and cannot wait for the festive holidays to enjoy time with the
“I am really happy that I get to spend time with my family and my sisters. I want to be many things when I grow and one of them is either a wrestler or a movie star,” detailed Iipinge who is getting his education at Child Intervention and Disability Support
With more than 30 operations done on him, which has affected his rate or his learning ability, his family wants to make sure that he covers that gap and soon be integrated into an inclusive school.