AFTER being born with a rare kidney disease that only affects boys, and waiting six years for a kidney, a young man from Nelson Mandela Bay will be cycling for more than 300km to raise funds for the hospital that saved his life.
Dean Arnolds (24) is planning to cycle from George to Nelson Mandela Bay from October 4 to October 8, with the goal of raising R150 000 for the Red Cross Children’s Trust, affiliated with the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, where he received his transplant at the age of 16.
Arnolds, a qualified home inspector and international athlete, was born with posterior urethral valves (PUV) which caused renal failure and he spent his days in and out of hospitals from the age of nine months.
After nine years, he was given a late diagnosis of PUV, which only affects one in every 8 000 male babies and had his left kidney removed when he was 10 years old.
“At the beginning, my parents thought that it was just gastroenteritis because of the high fever and diarrhoea. The paediatrician also diagnosed me with gastroenteritis and a urinary tract infection.
“I was admitted to Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town on April 18, 2008.
“After an assessment and discussions with my mom, the necessary steps were taken to do the best for me that they could and my kidney was subsequently removed on April 20, 2008,” Arnolds explained.
He added that a valve ablation was done two weeks later and treatment for chronic renal failure and supportive care commenced.
“I was on the transplant list for six years and then a life-changing phone call came on September 29, 2014 at 05:45: Red Cross Children’s Hospital had a kidney for me and it was a perfect match.
“Words cannot explain how I felt that morning. We were prepared and rushed to get to the airport and within 30 minutes, we were ready to get on our flight.
“The transplant was a success and my health improved drastically after that.”
He said that the hospital means a lot to him and he would really like to help them with their project of building a therapeutic play area at the hospital.
“I survived by the grace of God and overcame a life-threatening illness with their excellent, specialised service.
“As a transplant recipient, I would like to encourage others to register as organ donors. I am a living testimony about the way it helps others.”
Apart from living a healthy life after receiving the kidney, Arnolds went on to become a star athlete when he joined the South African Transplant Sport Association.
In 2017, he received his Protea colours, as a 400m sprinter and represented South Africa in Spain the very same year.
He also made it to the World Transplant Games in 2017.
Two years later, he represented the country in the UK in the 400m relay and pétanque.
Next year he will be competing in Australia.
“Looking back over the past 23 years, it sounds unbelievable what happened and it can happen to anyone but God is in control. He has plans for you to prosper and not to do you harm,” he said.
Anyone who would like to get into contact with Arnolds about his upcoming fundraiser, can call him on 081 748 8059 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.