Woman Waiting For a New Heart Helps Grow the Organ Donor Registry in SA
Photo Credit: Supplied

Jamie Waller is currently waiting for a new heart, so she took to social media to share her story and inspired an influx of people registering to be donors.


South Africa (14 October 2020) – Jamie Waller’s story is one that is changing lives! She is currently waiting for a new heart, and because of her story, many South Africans have signed up to become organ donors. This is her incredible story.

On the 11th of October last year, Jamie started coughing. It got to a point where it wouldn’t stop, and her lungs started to make odd crackling sounds. She knew something was wrong and decided to see the doctor the next day.

Her doctor was concerned about the crackling sound and decided it would be best to do X-rays and blood work to see what was going on. He was concerned that Jamie might have had pneumonia.

“A few hours later I was check-in to the ICU at Kingsburg Hospital with pneumonia. One of the symptoms with pneumonia is coughing up phlegm – that didn’t happen with me – so I was sent to the general ward ready to go home. More doctors (all incredible women) came in and out for just standard checks – well I thought they were standard. The next “standard” thing I thought was to send me to Vincent Pallotti Hospital just to check my heart and make sure I’m 100%. That’s when I met Brad.

Brad – Dr Griffiths – came in, introduced himself, asked the general questions and then proceeded to explain why there was water in my lungs. My heart was failing (diluted cardiomyopathy). Now it gets this part gets a bit boring so I’m going to fast forward – after being in ICU for a week I was ready to go home, again – but alas my heart was doing strange things again. That’s when Dr Milne arrived – he told me that I am going to get a pacemaker and defibrillator, a 5x7ish cm machine that gets placed in your chest connected to your heart, my heart, with wires. So that’s what happened.”

After some time, Jamie was sent home. She took advantage of home comforts, had a shower and when she was done, she was feeling faint, so she lay down and closed her eyes. Her body was under massive strain, and she slipped in and out of consciousness. During this time, Jamie was rushed back to the hospital, where she was diagnosed as having had a stroke.

When she woke again, she was connected to a ventilator. Her stroke left her with two options, to have brain surgery or to receive a life-altering injection that would leave her speechless and unable to walk. The family all decided to go with the latter due to the high risks of surgery.

“In the coming weeks, I had to learn how to speak, read and write (so please excuse any grammar, spelling or overall writing). Finally, I got to go home! It was the day of the Final Rugby World Cup – and we won!”

Jamie is fighting for her life, but she needs a new heart. She has been in and out of the hospital a few times, and the medication she is on can keep her going for now. On the 20th of September, her 25th birthday, she asked her friends and family to rather save their wishes and gift her by registering as organ donors.

Since Jamie’s birthday, the Organ Donor Foundation have said they have seen a rise in donor registration linked to her story. If you would like to register as an organ donor for Jamie, you can do so here.

Jamie, we wish you all the best on this journey and hope you continue to inspire others with your story. As you do, the registry will grow, and you too will save many lives!

Sources: Heidi Waller – Supplied
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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