Gawie Marx (1998)

 In Survivor stories

[Gawie Nel] Never Give Up! This statement might sound like an overused cliché but when you’ve been through a battle with Leukaemia watching the disease claim the lives of people in your ward while you are receiving your treatment, it is easy to lose hope. The incredible journey of 52-year old Gawie Marx is however a practical lesson that despite the circumstances one must never give up.

Gawie was diagnosed with Acute  Leukaemia in November 1997 at the age of 31 and found himself in need of a bone marrow/blood stem cell transplant. He was one of the fortunate few people that had a sibling who was a 100% match who could be his donor.  Globally thousands of patients are diagnosed with blood diseases every year and there is only a 25% chance that a sibling might be match. The remaining 75% need an unrelated matched donor.

On 13 August 1998, Gawie received a stem cell donation from his brother, Johan. His treatment involved 3 courses of 7 days in-hospital chemotherapy which took 8 months to complete. At first all seemed to go well with until he developed graft versus host disease, which has left him blind in one eye, despite this he has however made a full recovery.

When he was diagnosed, Gawie’s doctor advised him to store his sperm as he would be infertile after his treatment. Upon the doctor’s advice he stored his sperm and 11 years later, he and his wife welcomed twin boys into this world and into their family.

In August this year Gawie celebrated his 20-year post transplant anniversary.

He is now working as Executive Assistant Manager at The Taj Hotel in Cape Town.

Gawie is also a keen tennis player and has represented the South African transplant team at 6 World Transplant games winning 3 medals.