He has been on the waiting list for two years now. The organ donor was finally on the way. The surgical unit began preparing him for the operation. He was finally going to be given a second chance at life. A chance many people could not afford. This was an extension on his life. The kind of lifeline he’d been daring to cross.

“I’m going to live,” he said beaming with a big smile on his face.

The doctor took his temperature and conducted a safety precaution test on him. “It looks like we are ready for operation,” the doctor said.

He was one of the lucky ones and he was grateful for that. They gave him a chance of a lifetime. The hospital porters came into his ward and took him to the operating theatre.

It was five years ago when he realised that he had a liver failure. He could not believe that something like that could ever happen to him. One of his organs was deteriorating inside his body and his life was under threat. It was like somebody put an expiry date on him. He was rotting inside and the smell was starting to come out. “We are very sorry sir, but you have a liver failure,” one of the doctors said to him.

His family was beside him, next to his hospital bed after he has suffered his first seizure. This was a serious thing and everyone around him could only watch him suffer. The pain he was feeling was too much for his wife and children. The doctors and nurses who were responsible for treating him told his family to go outside and give him some room.

Maria, his wife, was in tears. She could only hold his hand and pray to God that her husband recovered and got well.

“Is he going to be alright doctor?” she asked speaking to the doctor responsible for her husband, Tshepang. Tshepang remained in a critical condition. He could not move or talk. He was just lying on his bed with pipes in his nose and mouth helping him to breathe.

“He is stable for now, we will call you if anything changes,” said the doctor. The visiting hours for the hospital were about to end and the doctor told Tshepang’s family to go home and rest.

That was five years ago and Tshepang had managed to make progress ever since. He survived the worst back then and today he was about to be rewarded for that.

“Honey you’re finally going to be okay,” said Maria.

The hospital staff lit candles in honour of Tshepang’s wonderful recovery. They had been praying for him ever since he was put on the waiting list for organ donations.

“Your husband is a brave man Mrs Mathaba,” one of the nurses in the hospital said to Maria.

Maria could only appreciate the support the hospital had shown towards her and her husband through the difficult journey.

“Thank you very much, we are really thankful for all the support you have given us through this hard time,” she said.

The organ donor finally arrived and the surgical unit began to operate on Tshepang. This was a four-and-a-half-hour operation. It was a very delicate operation and everyone inside the hospital was eager and waiting for the outcome. Tshepang was unconscious during the operation and then all of a sudden the lights went out and the hospital was in complete darkness. The electricity was out. The hospital maintenance manager switched on the backup generators manually. The power backup generators were supposed to kick up power automatically, but things just wasn’t going the way they should have.

The operating machines in the surgical unit were switched on again and doctors immediately resumed operating on Tshepang’s body; working against time to save his life. The worst thing that could happen to a person in an operation occurred, Tshepang died of heart failure. This was due to insufficient oxygen. The minute the lights went off, the machine that was responsible for helping him breathe could not pump enough oxygen into his lungs. This prevented his heart from functioning in a normal way.

The doctor told Tshepang’s family the bad news and the curtain in the surgical unit he was in was closed.


Tell us: Do you think more could have been done to save Tshepang’s life?