People Has Heart: NiQi’s Got A FIghting Spirit!
NiQi During is a 28-year-old soft natured big dreams, big future type of girl. She has endured allot in life and never ceases to amaze friends and family with her fighting spirit. NiQi had it rough from the get-go. Before she could even crawl she had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis – an inherited and progressive disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs within the body. This disorder affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices and over time cases persistent lung infections and inhibits breathing.
NiQi was abandoned by both mother and grandparents who could not afford to take care of her. Fortunately she was blessed by a loving foster family who welcomed her into their home as their son was battling the same life threatening condition. Mark sadly passed away a couple of years after NiQi joined the family at the tender age of nine.
“NiQi has always had a happy spirit and loving nature; you couldn’t help but fall in love with her. When she was younger, we would say, her heart is like a South African taxi – always room for one more”, says NiQi’s guardian, Suzanne Lucas. “When her cystic fibrosis specialist left Pietermaritzburg and there was no CF clinic available in our region, our family made a choice and relocated to Pretoria as NiQi’s health started to deteriorate. At the age of 21, NiQi’s lung function reached 17 percent and doctors warned us that she might only have two years left to live. We signed NiQi onto a medical aid and had to wait an entire year before acceptance on the medical aid and registration on the Organ Transplant Registry for new lungs, due to her pre-existing condition”.
Through hard work and sheer determination, NiQi managed to improve her lung function to 30 percent as she waited for her new lungs. She also had a PEG fitted, which she used for night feeds to help her gain weight in preparation for a lung transplant. After more than a year of waiting and hoping for the best, but expecting the worst, the family, oved back to Pietermaritzburg, where NiQi had initially chosen to live out her last days. “As soft as NiQi is she has always been a fighter, she has fought her condition with courage and with grace every step of the way. She went from being bedridden and on relying on oxygen to proving to the world that despite her situation she will always pull through”, says Suzanne.
In February 2017 it had been two years since NiQi joined approximately 4 300 South African on the donor waiting list when she finally got a call that a match has been found! After an intense six-hour procedure and a total of six weeks in hospital NiQi was finally able to enjoy a sense of freedom with a healthy set of lungs. Unfortunately for NiQi her joy was short lived. Four days later she suffered a pulmonary embolism and developed tachycardia erythmia. Then, finally after fighting the infection and embolism, NiQi was permitted to return home, just five and a half months after the transplant. She enjoyed a further five carefree months and embraced normality.
“I was eventually able to start working and living like a ‘normal’ person. I could go out with no oxygen, no wheelchair. I could walk and run without getting tired. For the first time in many years I had a sense of freedom. Few will understand how that felt after struggling to breath for so long”, says NiQi. “Then in January 2018, I began feeling tired, was constantly out of breath and a feeling of something was wrong. I was eventually sent for an open lung biopsy, after already spending the first couple of months in hospital, that caused to many complications, I had pneumothorax in hospital for 36 days, 21 of those days were spent in ICU. The biopsy results eventually came back and it was confirmed that I was in chronic rejection – my new lungs were no longer compatible with me”.
To slow down the progression of the rejection NiQi had two round of IV treatment that did little to remedy the situation. Her doctors at Milpark Hospital have now decided that photopheresis treatment is the best way forward, and this will be undertaken in Pretoria. She will need about 24 treatments, which she is hoping to start as soon as possible. Each co-payment for this procedure is estimated to cost R800. Porky’s People have set up a campaign on donations-based crowdfunding platform BackaBuddy in hopes to support NiQi’s upcoming treatments. If would like to assist, please log onto www.backabuddy.co.za/niqi-during, or mail [email protected]