Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dead donor rips heart out of community

It is better to share this story by By Maryna van Wyk with you all.

Sandra Kajuba from Platfontein is the mother of the 17-year-old Evelina who died after she was assaulted by a family member. Picture: Maryna van Wyk

A young San woman, whose heart was transplanted into a 12-year-old Free State boy after she was bludgeoned to death, cannot be buried because her impoverished family can’t afford a coffin.

While Avelina Kajuba’s battered body lies in the Kimberley mortuary, doctors involved in Christiaan Stassen’s heart transplant believe he will recover fully and be able lead a normal life.

Kajuba was declared brain dead on Tuesday morning after being found several hours earlier next to the Platfontein clinic, allegedly beaten to death by her common-law husband, Gerschon Stefanus.

Christiaan received her heart on Wednesday afternoon in a race against time during two concurrent procedures, one in Cape Town and the other in Kimberley to harvest the unharmed organs.

Christiaan, after waking up from hours of anaesthesia in the intensive care unit of the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town, thanked God for his new heart.

His father, Chris, a Bloemfontein state attorney, said Christiaan was in good spirits and would remain in Cape Town for three months with his mother, Liezel.

But in stark contrast, the community of Platfontein, a semi-arid area just outside Kimberley, live a forgotten existence, in a life mired in poverty, crime and alcohol abuse.

Late on Wednesday, when Christiaan’s heart transplant was almost complete, Sandra Kajuba, mother of Avelina, drank away her sorrows.

Violence had just savaged her family for a second time. Avelina, her eldest daughter was raped and murdered several years ago.

Speaking through an interpreter, Kajuba said she was devastated, but glad her daughter could give life to another person. However, after long hours of discussion yesterday around the fire in the close-knit family structures of the community, the reality of organ donation sunk in.

“I now have to bury my child without a heart. How can somebody live with my daughter’s heart and she is dead?” Kajuba asked.


Members of the Kajuba family said it was the first time organ donation had ever been mentioned within the Platfontein community.

Now, it’s something they cannot fully comprehend.

Avelina’s father, Kajuba Mukugo, joined the family near the fire, but minutes later walked away in anger after overhearing the discussion about his daughter.

He divorced Sandra many years ago, but they still live two houses from each other.

“He is very upset about the transplant and grieved about Avelina’s heart,” family members said.

With the help of two female interpreters, an angry Sandra said her daughter’s heart donation had not been fully explained to her. “They did not ask us to take out her heart and give it away. I did not even have the time to give my thumb print. My daughter’s husband should now be released from jail to dig her grave. We will not dig the grave. After he has done this job, the police can take him back to jail,” she said.

The Kajuba’s said they wanted to meet Christiaan’s family. “The families should talk. It is only fair that we should be compensated for our loss.”

A few kilometres away from Sandra’s house, the house of Stefanus was deserted. He had appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on charges of murder.

His relative said she did not know what happened on Monday night when Avelina was severely beaten, allegedly by Stefanus, in Sandra’s home.

Sandra, she said, had tried desperately to stop her daughter’s attacker, who was believed to be under the influence of alcohol. Neighbours did not intervene.

Several community members said Stefanus abused his young wife regularly. Her kidney has been donated to recipient from Kimberley and her liver to a child with irreversible liver failure. The other kidney and her corneas will be used at a later stage.

taken from IOL Daily Newsletter [www.iol.co.za]
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