IT IS only after we have grown up that many of us realise how important our mothers are to us.

No matter what challenges they faced, they cared for us from birth to adulthood.

Owami Kgabo has learnt to appreciate his mum after the sacrifices she made for him.

The three-year-old boy from KwaThema in Springs, Ekurhuleni, suffered a lot of pain because of a failed kidney, until he got a donor organ.

Last month, he underwent surgery at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital to have the life-saving kidney transplanted.

After the successful operation he was moved to Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, where he is recovering well.

The donor was his mother, Mbali (22). She said: “Owami was in pain every time he had to pee and his stomach kept growing bigger and bigger.

“We did not know what was wrong until the doctors discovered it was his kidney.

“I am so happy the operation went well.”

The 22-year-old mum travels to the hospital almost daily to give her son support.

“He is so active that people do not believe me when I tell them how sick he was.”

Runel van Schalkwyk (32) from Klerksdorp is staying at the hospital until her eight-month-old daughter Anthanaya is well enough to leave.

The little girl was born with a hole in her heart and needed an operation. The operation went well and she is recovering at the children’s hospital.

Kereboletswe Tlame (34) from Zeerust is also staying at the children’s hospital while her 16-month-old son, Lethabo, recovers from a tumour operation he had last week.

Sphiwe Skhosana, the chairman of Ronald McDonald House Charities, the foundation that built the “home away from home” facility for mothers of critically ill children aged up to 18 years, at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, said they deal only with referrals.

“We house families who live far from the hospital so they can support their children without a daily commute.”

He said they were currently housing about 15 families of children who were being treated at the hospital.

Skhosana said they were looking at requests to build similar houses in other provinces. He also said they would soon launch a mobile clinic to work in rural areas and help children there who need help.