Organ Donor Month
Become part of Organ Donor Awareness
August is National Organ Donor Awareness Month and while the number of patients waiting for transplants continue to increase the serious shortage of potential donors remain a great concern.
Save a life and become an Organ donor.
According to Harriet Etheredge, Bioethicist and Health Communication Specialist, University of the Witwatersrand around 4300 people are waiting for organs in South Africa at any given time. New livers, kidneys, lungs, and hearts are needed, and organ donors are in very short supply.
There are many complex elements that keep donor numbers low.
Public Perception – Within society, religious and socio-cultural practices do play a role in the shortage of donor organs plus the suspicion of the biomedical system in South Africa. The so-called “kidneygate” saga of 2001 is one example of poor medical ethics. This scandal saw “donors” from poor families in Brazil flown to South Africa and paid a nominal sum for a kidney, which was implanted in most cases into wealthy Israeli recipients. The sale of human organs is illegal in South Africa, as it is in most other parts of the world. Distrust is bred through suspicion. If the doctor or hospital is suspected to profit from donations, people question what will happen to their loved ones’ organs.
Legislation – South African organ transplant legislation is vague. The National Health Act addresses the serious issue of organ trafficking. It also stipulates that consent can be given in written or oral form by a mentally competent person with two witnesses to deceased organ donation. Technically this means that a next-of-kin consent to organ donation isn’t required if the person stated a preference to donate during their lifetime but the Act don’t go any further in addressing the procurement of donor organs from people who are deceased.
Finding Solutions – no single factor is keeping donor numbers low in SA. Policymakers, health care professionals, civil society advocacy groups and academics must work collaboratively to address these issues if the situation is to be improved.
What can we do to increase organ & tissue donation awareness?
Think of the amazing opportunity to donate your organs and a single donor can make an enormous impact but the best thing is to spread awareness of the need to donate your organs. A person in need’s life will be saved or will be enhanced by donors.
To raise awareness there are a few things that anyone can do:
Update your social media – find links or banners to add to your Facebook, Twitter and or Instagram accounts. You can also write posts, tag friends and share blogs to show how easy it is to save a life.
Join the Organ Donor Foundation – if you are not part of the foundation, now is an excellent time to sign up. It is so easy and can be done online at www.odf.org.za or you can phone the organ donor foundation’s toll free line on 0800 22 66 11.
Encourage others to join – to spread awareness, encourage your friends and family to sign up with you. Educate yourself on the subject so that the conversation with others are not difficult.
Information on frequently asked questions:
Any person in good health and is clear of defined chronic diseases that might affect the recipient will be considered a possible donor.
No medical test is needed to register as a donor. Medical test will be carried out at the time of death.
Your heart, liver and pancreas can save 3 lives and your kidneys and lungs can help up to 4 people. You can save 7 lives.
Tissue donations can help up to 50 people by donating your corneas, skin, bone, tendons, and heart valves.
It costs nothing to sign up as an organ/tissue donor.
You can at any time change your mind if you no longer wish to donate your organs.