I met Pieter on 16 June 2012 through my wife Natasja, who is friends with Pieter's wife Lizelle. Natasja and Lizelle met the first time in 2005 while Lizelle was a rep for a beauty product range called Annique. Since then they have kept in contact via Facebook. Then one day, seven years later, out of the blue they decided to get together and thought it was a good idea to bring their husbands along.
At first I was a little apprehensive, I never liked the idea of becoming "couple friends" when a spouse has a very good friend. It always makes the friendship feel forced. But Pieter and I really hit it off, and it amazed both of us how much we have in common. We have the same interests, the same outlook on life and similar personalities. I Still remember sitting around the table in the restaurant, and all four of us wondered if perhaps we were brothers separated at birth.
Natasja told me a while ago that Pieter suffers from renal failure and that he needs to undergo dialysis every second day. Yet that whole day Pieter didn't mention it once, even though he could, and most people would have. What immediately became apparent was Pieter's very positive nature. He suffers daily from this condition, but not once felt the need for any pity. It's the card he'd been dealt and he was taking it in his stride. I immediately gained a huge amount of respect for him.
On 07 July 2012 we went to visit Pieter and Lizelle for the second time. We had a lovely time and got along like a house on fire. It felt like we knew each other for years. So I thought I'd ask Pieter about his condition. Up to 3 years ago he was leading a healthy life, when his kidneys failed. He has since been on the kidney transplant waiting list. He told us with so much emotion how he has to go to hospital every second day straight after work, and be on dialysis for 4 hours, excluding travelling and all the preparation to him and the machine. He then arrives at home around midnight, feeling terrible from the side effects, having trouble sleeping. The next morning he still feels bad, but has to go to his high stress job. During the course of the day he gradually starts feeling better, and he gets to spend some quality time with Lizelle. The next day it's back to work and back to hospital to start the whole routine again.
I sat there watching Pieter tell the story and I could see how hard it is on him, both physically and mentally. I also saw Lizelle, her heart breaking for him, suffering from the feeling of helplessness and compassion. She had been tested to be a donor, and it was a partial match, which would mean that Pieter would have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life, killing his immune system, and leaving him vulnerable to other diseases. They decided to wait for a more suitable donor. Together they said: "Soon, he'll get the call soon." They are so positive and hopeful, even during the worst of times.
That really touched me. I suddenly realised how blessed I am for all that I am and have, and how often I take even the most basic things like a good night's sleep and going on holiday with Natasja for granted. It was at that moment that I felt the incredible desire to help Pieter, to give him back his life and give Lizelle back her husband. I started asking Pieter about the risks involved in being a living donor, and what it entails. On the way home that evening I did a lot of soul searching, and the next morning a lot of research on the internet. Satisfied with the risks I decided that I was going to donate a kidney to Pieter.
Natasja walked into the bedroom while I was still lying in bed, the NHS's website about being a living kidney donor open on my iPad. She looked at the iPad, looked at me, started to smile and nod in approval. We've been together for 12 years, and married for 10. We know each other so well that most of the time we can communicate thought and feeling by just looking at one another. In that moment we both realised and agreed what needs to be done. She told me that she knew that I started thinking about it at the dining room table the previous night, and supports my decision fully.
So I sent an email to Pieter, detailing my thoughts and decision, knowing that if I rang him, the moment would be so intense I would be unable to find the right words. He was shocked and amazed that a virtual stranger would make such a sacrifice. But I don't believe in coincidences. I believe every single thing happens for a reason, and that Pieter crossed my path so that I may demonstrate my love and compassion by helping him. At this very moment I don't even know what my blood type is and if we match, but deep down I just know this is why we met, and that it will be a perfect match.