In a heartwarming turn of events, Carol de Swardt, a 62-year-old mother of five from George, has found renewed hope in her battle against kidney failure. After years of suffering, her eldest son, Cyril, has stepped forward with an extraordinary act of love and sacrifice.

Carol’s struggle began in 2020 when she first started showing symptoms of kidney failure. Her condition rapidly deteriorated, leading to severe swelling, constant fatigue, and relentless dehydration. By 2022, Carol’s health had declined to the point where she required dialysis—a gruelling four-hour procedure three times a week that left her feeling terrible afterwards. “I am constantly nauseous and vomit all the time. My back aches because of my diseased kidneys and I am always tired,” Carol told the George Herald. The illness runs in her family; her mother succumbed to kidney failure, and one of her grandsons has also recently started dialysis.

In May of this year, Carol’s doctor referred her to Dr. Trevor Gerntholtz, a nephrologist from Cape Town, who confirmed that she was a good candidate for a kidney transplant. The news brought a glimmer of hope to Carol’s life. However, the biggest surprise came from her eldest son, Cyril, who had been quietly preparing for this moment for over a year.


Pictured above: Carol and her son Cyril who will also be her donor

“I had such a wonderful surprise when my eldest son, Cyril (46), came to me earlier this year to say that he has been following a healthy lifestyle for a year now because he wanted to be healthy enough to donate a kidney to me. He had stopped smoking and drinking, but kept quiet about it for the entire year,” Carol recalled.

In addition to Cyril, Carol’s youngest son, Ferrier, also underwent tests to see if he could be a potential donor. Miraculously, he too was found to be a match. “This means that if the operation is not successful, I have yet another chance, so I am immensely grateful,” Carol said.

Cyril’s motivation for this selfless act stems from his deep love and appreciation for his mother. “It is my turn to give back. She sacrificed her own needs for our family’s well-being. I am her firstborn and it is the best way to show my love for her. I want to be there for her, to hold her hand, and to help her through this challenging time. I just want them to ‘plug and play’ now—take out my kidney and get it into her. We are ready to go. The longer we wait, the longer she has to suffer,” he expressed.


Pictured above: Carol and her daughter Samantha Shrives

Dr. Gerntholtz explained the high probability of children being a match for their parents due to shared genetic material. However, the process is not without risks. The receiver needs to be on strong anti-rejection medication post-operation, which can cause heart disease. For the donor, any surgery carries risks, but thorough evaluations ensure it is safe to proceed.

Complete recovery for both donor and receiver typically takes about three months. In the meantime, Cyril has started a BackaBuddy crowdfunding campaign, “A selfless act of love: helping a son save his mother’s life” to raise funds for the necessary accommodations and travel expenses. Living in Pietermaritzburg, Cyril and his wife must fly to Cape Town for the operation at Groote Schuur Hospital, a cost they cannot afford on their own.

Carol’s story is a testament to the enduring power of family and love. Despite her immense pain and suffering, the support of her sons and the generosity of others have given her a renewed sense of hope. As she waits for the transplant date, Carol remains grateful for the opportunity to regain her health and spend more precious moments with her family.


Support Cyril’s campaign here: