Dalene von Delft
I was diagnosed with MDR-TB on Christmas Eve of 2010. What followed was a harrowing 19 months of treatment, during which I had to make some potentially life-threatening decisions in an attempt to preserve my hearing and career. I had optimal access to all forms of care, but the vast majority of other patients are not nearly as lucky. I became a very motivated TB patient/physician advocate, campaigning for more effective, safer and equitable treatment options on local and global platforms.
I qualified as a medical doctor from Stellenbosch University in 2006. After two years of internship in the Eastern Cape and a year of community service in Paarl, I started working as a medical officer for the Department of Paediatrics at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.
My dreams of becoming a paediatric surgeon were seemingly shattered when I was diagnosed with primary multi-drug resistant (MDR) pulmonary tuberculosis on Christmas Eve of 2010. What followed was a harrowing 19 months of treatment, during which I had to make some potentially life-threatening decisions in an attempt to preserve my hearing and career.
I had optimal access to all forms of care, including very fortuitous use of the first new TB drug in 42 years, bedaquiline, on South Africa’s short-lived 2011 compassionate use program. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have recovered so well from this debilitating disease – the vast majority of other DR-TB patients are not nearly as lucky.
I subsequently became a very motivated TB patient/physician advocate, campaigning for more effective, safe and equitable treatment options. I am a founding member of ‘TB Proof’, an education and awareness community seeking to destigmatize all forms of TB and empower health care workers and students to protect themselves and their patients more effectively against nosocomial TB transmission.
I have done advocacy on various national and international platforms, including being a member of the WHO’s Strategic and Technical advisory group for TB (STAG TB) as well as the Global Drug-Resistant TB Initiative Core Group (STOP TB Partnership). I was also elected to be a National TB Ambassador by the former South African Minister of Health.
In 2012, I swam four and a half laps of the Long Street pool in Cape Town entirely under water. When I surfaced, I covered a distance of 114 m and have broken the South African freediving record. This win was made extra special by the fact that I recovered from TB five years earlier.
Andrea von Delft
As a physiotherapist, I knew about TB, but not enough. I was generally thinking, “it’s out there.” It wasn’t until my husband, a medical doctor, was diagnosed with TB, that I realise that anyone can get TB and that health workers are particular at risk of contracting TB.
I contracted TB as a medical student while doing clinical rotations in hospitals in Cape Town. In October 2012, I was diagnosed with Multidrug Resistant Tuberculosis Lymphadenitis and had to take TB treatment for about 2 years. Being diagnosed with TB came as a huge shock for as I didn’t have any of the risk factors associated with TB, except that I was a healthcare worker, working in hospitals where infection control measures aren’t always implemented.
I am a 30-year-old (2020) and live in Cape Town. In 2010, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was forced to stop my studies at Cape Peninsula University of Technology to go for treatment. Despite this my condition did not improve, and after about five months of treatment, first for “normal” TB and then for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), I was finally diagnosed with extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), the deadliest form of the disease