How excessive drinking nearly led to man’s death by heart failure

What felt like another hangover nearly cost Tebogo Thamaga his life after the doctors diagnosed him with heart failure.

The 35-year-old man from Soweto told Sunday World that he feels as though God gave him a second chance to live right.

Thamaga said his life drastically changed after a doctor told him his heart was not beating at a normal rate.

“I started getting sick in January 2023 and as time progressed, I got worse. I initially thought I was hung over, so I went to the pharmacy and got the over-the-counter medication. The medication helped until it could not anymore,” said Thamaga.

He said he hopped from medication to medication as people recommended things that he was supposed to take to get better.

Self-medication did not help

“Instead of getting better, I was getting worse. I could not eat, so I lost a lot of weight.  After a consultation with a private doctor, he told me I was dehydrated and referred me to the hospital.”

In between the doctors’ visits, Thamaga said his feet were swollen, his belly got bigger and he could not walk by himself. He said he used an estimated amount of R20 000 for all his doctor’s appointments as he had no medical aid.

“I had now started using a walking stick and wheelchair because I could not do anything. My partner and grandmother looked after me. 

“I was living with what is referred to as a non-functional heart because my heart was functioning at 9.8% which is far below the average 50-70% required for a normal heart. 

“In November last year, I went to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and a doctor told me that I had water from my lungs. It was 1.2 litres of water, and I was able to sleep after that,” he added.

Thamaga was not shy about revealing the cause of his near-death experience.

Drinking since grade 8

“I will just be direct about it. It was excessive drinking that led to the problem that I had. I formally started drinking in eighth grade, and then I started working. It escalated to an everyday thing because I could buy alcohol for myself.

“It looked like a cool thing to do, not aware that I was damaging myself internally.”

He said he does inform people about the dangers of alcohol, and it is up to them if they want to change.

“I am completely healed, I feel like me again. What I went through and what I am now, are two totally different people.”

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