Transplant athlete eyes gold

Mthunzi seizes ‘second chance’

A Rhodes University student has set his sights on winning gold at the World Transplant Games currently underway in Durban after he was given a second chance at life by an anonymous kidney donor.

Mthunzi Fatyi, 30, was just a young boy when he watched helplessly as his mother, Lulama, died of kidney failure and feared the worst when he too was diagnosed with the same ailment a few years later.

“I was raised by my grandmother after doctors could not find a kidney donor and my mother died.

“She kept on getting weaker and weaker and we watched her dying in front of us … she was crying, saying to my gran she must take care of me,” he said.

Although his childhood was “shaped” by such painful memories, there was more heartache to come when he was diagnosed with the same condition.

A born fighter, Fatyi bravely juggled his time between his studies at Ntsika High school and long trips to Port Elizabeth three times a week for dialysis – waiting to find a kidney donor.

“It was bad, hope was fading day by day,” he admitted.

With his brother Lulamile about to donate one of his kidneys, news came through that an organ donor had died and two kidneys were available.

“It was amazing that a stranger could do this for me, someone died to give me life.

“I was given a second chance and I now wake up every morning grateful to still be alive.”

A budding rugby talent before he was diagnosed, although Fatyi tried to keep fit as best he could, he knew he would never play again.

“Rugby was my passion, I loved the sport and was heartbroken I could not play again.”

Fatyi’s health deteriorated while he waited for a donor and it took him a long time to regain his strength after the operation.

Forced to give up his professional rugby dreams, the post-graduate education student turned to athletics when he was strong enough and hopes to go back to Ntsika next year to inspire learners to reach for their dreams through sport.

“I was heartbroken everytime I saw people playing rugby because I could not be on the field.

“Now I run, things have changed and I enjoy my new life.”

Competing for South Africa in the World Transplant Games in Durban, Fatyi is hoping to achieve gold in two races – the 5km run and the 100m – tomorrow. All competitors need to have had either a heart, lung, liver, kidney or bone marrow transplant.

The first competitive sporting event for transplant recipients took place in Portsmouth, England, in 1978 with around 99 competitors from the UK, France, Germany, Greece and the USA.

“I am doing this for my mother and grandmother, said Fatyi.

“It was tough growing up and conditions were not good but they still helped me to achieve something in my life.

“Now I want to inspire others.”

Article Source: The Daily Dispatch


Please help us to raise funds so that we can give all our students a chance to access online teaching and learning. Covid-19 has disrupted our students' education.  Don't let the digital divide put their future at risk. Visit to donate