The Beat Goes On
May 16, 2022
The heart-warming story of how our transplant patient proposed to his partner, after lifesaving heart surgery.
For just under half his life, Navern Munian,30, lived with a malfunctioning heart. So serious was his deterioration, that two years ago with no options left, his heart function dropped to just six percent. He was immediately put onto the urgent organ transplant list.
Cindy Goldie, Busamed Gateway Private Hospital’s Transplant Coordinator joined Mr. Munian’s long road of being on the transplant list, just over a year ago.
In 2008, Mr. Munian’s congestive heart failure was treated by Mr. Robert Kleinloog, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Busamed Gateway Private Hospital in KZN. His treatment included a double-valve replacement to address his acute left ventricular failure. According to Ms. Goldie, Dr Gillmer, his Cardiologist, had noted that Mr. Munian’s heart had the largest left ventricle he’d ever seen. “When we visually saw his heart, it was true… It actually looked like a boot. His ventricle was just so stretched and nonfunctional.”
She says Mr. Munian’s treatments varied thereafter, but it was clear he needed a transplant. “Last year (2021), he got to a point where the medication was maxed out. There was nowhere else to go. He was put onto the urgent status because anything under 10 percent of heart function becomes urgent. It was quite astonishing to see, with his chest open, how little movement the heart has at six percent. It barely moves. It literally just twitches.”
Ms. Goldie says even with so little heart function, Mr. Munian kept himself physically and mentally fit. He continued his work as a business analyst, even through lockdown “and he kept himself trim and lean.”
“But he is quite a strong-willed character. He persisted with trying to carry on working and have some sort of life and was quite resistant to giving in to his illness. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now and when a patient is sitting at six percent, it’s easy to give up mentally. He really is an amazing guy.”
Ms Goldie says on April 19th, she called Mr. Munian under the guise of a general wellness check. “I casually asked him what he had planned for the day, and he said he had nothing much beside going to work.” That’s when she told Mr. Munian that he needed to put in a request for leave because he was getting a new heart.
She says Mr. Munian’s reaction was one of utter disbelief and joy, adding that a patient’s gratitude is where the real miracle of organ donation comes through. “People who have chosen organ donation as an end-of-life wish, can save seven people by the donation of organs (heart, lungs, kidneys and pancreas), and improve the life of over 50 people with tissue donation (corneas, skin and bone). It’s a deeply significant and an aspirational act of love.”
She says on the day the organ became available, she chartered a flight to Johannesburg for Mr Kleinloog and his team to perform the operation of procuring the donor’s organs. Ensuring viable organs is a time-sensitive matter – one, that Ms. Goldie describes being matched by the tireless commitment of transplant surgeons and their teams.
“Three surgeons and a Perfusionist flew up, took out the lungs for a Gauteng patient on the transplant list, then took out the heart and flew back to Durban with it.” It’s no small feat, explains Ms. Goldie, who began her medical career as a paramedic. “Flights are not always available, surgical teams might not be available, as in this case where we assisted the Johannesburg team with the lungs … there are a lot of factors that go into the miracle of what has happened to Mr. Munian, in fact all 5 recipients of the gift of life”.
For 20 years, Ms. Goldie’s passion has revolved around second chances. She says organ donation was once in the zone of “uncomfortable conversations” but people are opening up to the notion of leaving a selfless legacy left behind when they become organ donors.
“In a large way, this is what makes organ donation such an important factor in the legacy of our lives. We give all our honour to donors who do the most selfless act of surrendering their organs to those who might have a fighting chance.” She says it never gets old watching a patient achieve milestones they would never have reached.”
Milestones like Mr. Munian’s surprise, tear-jerking and heartwarming proposal to his partner, Sherice Roopai, at the hospital. The bride-to-be told the Sunday Times, “His (Mr. Munian’s) donor blessed us with a gift of life, a second chance at our happily ever after.”
Mr. Munian, after making a remarkable 10-day recovery, surprised Busamed Gateway staff with a touching speech. “Busamed is a lovely, family orientated hospital. There is some higher power looking down on you guys. I know we’ve obliterated some records here, but that wasn’t up to me. I was your (the staff’s) vessel and you guys carried me through everything.” He said he knew many other patients would continue to benefit from the ‘attention to care’ the Busamed family paid to all who walk through the doors.
Click here to register as on organ donor: https://organdonorfoundation.org.za/
You can watch Mr. Munian’s heartfelt proposal here: