I owe it all to my kidney donor's mom‚ says top SA transplant athlete

20 July 2017 - 14:34 By Petru Saal
Martinique du Preez at last October’s National Transplant Games in Johannesburg.
Martinique du Preez at last October’s National Transplant Games in Johannesburg.
Image: Desire Jones

A bullet saved Martinique du Preez’s life‚ and he hasn’t looked back.

The 20-year-old Capetonian has just returned from the World Transplant Games in Spain with a clutch of medals‚ and says he owes everything to the mother of a 17-year-old gunshot victim from Cape Town’s southern suburbs who agreed to donate her son’s organs.

Du Preez’s kidneys failed when he was a 13-year-old living in Haarlem in the Southern Cape. “I woke up one morning in 2013 and my legs were swollen. Because we used to go to the mountains and take out honey‚ my parents thought it may have been a bee that stung me‚” he said.

But a Cape Town doctor diagnosed a rare disease that meant both kidneys were failing — and said dialysis wasn’t an option.

“They were struggling because at this stage my entire body was swelling. They basically made holes in my body to get rid of the excess fluids‚” said Du Preez.

Doctors said his only chance of survival was a transplant‚ and his mother‚ Chantel September‚ donated one of kidneys. But five hours after surgery his body rejected it.

“One morning when I was 18 my mother woke me up to give me the news that the doctor found a match for me. The boy was 17‚ he had been shot. Doctors had declared him brain dead and his organs were up for donation‚” said Du Preez.

“I went for the surgery and everything was successful. I was so relieved.”

A new kidney and improved health meant Du Preez could chase his athletics dream. “Three months after the operation‚ I started to train‚” he said.

“Five months after my transplant I took part in the National Transplant Games in Stellenbosch. I broke the 200m South African record. I got three gold medals — in 100m‚ 200m and shot put.”

Du Preez broke five South African records at last October’s National Transplant Games in Johannesburg and returned from the world event in Málaga with a gold in the ball-throw‚ silvers in long-jump and javelin‚ and bronze in the 100m.

The first-year management student from Cape Peninsula University of Technology said he trained for three hours a day‚ six days a week.