BY all accounts, local resident, Lesley Hurlbatt’s early life was sedate and sheltered. Born with a genetic heart defect, Hurlbatt could not do anything strenuous and she had to change schools a number of times because they had stairs.
“My parents had to look for schools that had no stairs. I remember my dad having to carry me up stairs in some instances,” she explained. The Somerset Park resident was also given devastating news by doctors at the time, who said she would only live till 30. She is now 58, and thanks to a heart transplant in 2004, her quality of life has greatly improved. “I feel like I need to celebrate at 60, because it will be double the age limit I was supposed to live to,” she laughed.
The biggest change to the local resident’s life is that she is now a Protea. Hurlbatt is one of three local residents gearing up for the World Transplant Games in Argentina later this year. She competes in the sport of pétanque (similar to bowls).
“Qualifying for the games is a fantastic feat, but now I just need to raise the funds to get there. I’d love to go, it’s a dream for any athlete to represent their country. My daughter, who lives in Australia, has started her own fundraising initiative to help me reach my goal. To date no funds have been allocated from government or the national sporting body, SASCOC, and it is highly unlikely to happen,” she said.
“The games are also an opportunity for me to help promote organ and tissue donation by demonstrating that recipients can have full, active lives. There’s no greater gift than the gift of life, and I’m living a second life because of an organ donor,” she said.
This year’s games will be held in Mar de Plata in Argentina, and Hurlbatt will be joined by uMhlanga’s Cathy de Beer as well as eMdloti’s Elsa Siedle.
If you would like to contribute to Hurlbatt’s journey, contact her on 082 428 5051.