In the space of only two years, both of Muriel and Micheal Chapman’s children were diagnosed with kidney failure and she gave up one of her own kidneys to save her eldest child’s life.
World Kidney Day today (Thursday March 10) is of particular relevance to the Chapman family as young Cejay Cody, 5, and Neetah Joy, 3, both received new kidneys.
“Doctors could not say why it happened to both of my children and why both of them went through the exact same thing, but I have learnt to accept and trust in God, because we never stop praying for both of my children,” said the Ottery mother.
With Cejay, Ms Chapman received a call from school in 2014, when the teacher started noticing that he was swelling up and it was only getting worse.
“I immediately picked him up, took him to the doctor and we were referred to a paediatrician. By this time, his hands, face and feet were very swollen. They ran some tests and delivered the news. I then demanded that my son be admitted to Red Cross Children’s Hospital for care,” Ms Chapman said.
She spent the next two months in hospital with Cejay and witnessed how his body kept refusing the fluids. He was on the operating table four times, suffering renal failure during this time.
“I then gave up my kidney to save my child’s life,” said Ms Chapman. “The decision was not hard at all, because these are my children, and I’d do anything to keep them safe from harm. It is tough, very tough, because, as parents, you don’t want to see your children going through such pain.”
Ms Chapman was forced to remove her then seven-month-old daughter, Neetah Joy, from her breast so that she could prep to have her kidney harvested for her son.
As if things could not get any worse, the following year, the Chapman’s daughter went through the same ordeal, this time while Cejay was still being treated.
However, Neetah offered a different challenge, as her procedure was slightly more complex due to her poor immune system.
The Chapmans were facing the very real prospect of losing their youngest child when a call at midnight offered them fresh hope.
“We received a call from the doctor to say they found a kidney for Neetah. We did not hesitate, and we immediately took her into hospital. And hours later, she was on the operating table receiving her new kidney,” Ms Chapman said.
It was still not over. Neetah had to adapt to her new organ. After fevers and endless days in hospital, Neetah pulled through.
“We nearly lost her, but we also did not stop praying for her or both of them for that matter. If it wasn’t for God, things would have been different. There were days when she would be for five days on her back and not doing well. With Cejay, he adapted very quickly, and in no time, he was up and running, but Neetah was a very different story,” Ms Chapman said.
The stay-at-home mom has now dedicated her life to caring for her two children. She said it was “challenging”, but she had to stay “strong for her children”.
“I don’t get help from anybody and I am all on my own when it comes to the children. My husband is the breadwinner, and he has to be at work. It’s tough, but these are my children, I must be here with them,” Ms Chapman said.
With both her children on the road to recovery, she urged parents going through the same ordeal to “never give up”.
“It’s not easy on parents, because so many things go wrong, so many challenges you are faced with, but it’s your children and we do everything to protect them. When they go through so much pain, you as a parent feel that as well, but you have to remain strong for them,” Ms Chapman said.