Consider giving the gift of life

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has urged all South Africans to consider listing themselves as organ donors. 

The call comes as the country observes Organ Donor Month to raise awareness of the critical deficiency of donor organs in the country, resulting in long waiting lists for organ transplants with potential negative consequences for those waiting for a lifesaving transplant. 

“Donated organs have saved the lives of many… people across the world, including South Africa,” SAMA said. 

Organ Donor Month is a nationwide effort in view of the extremely low organ donation rate in South Africa. 

The prime goal of the Organ Donor Foundation (ODF), a national non-profit and public benefit organisation, is to raise national awareness about the need for and the benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. 

According to the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa, as many as 4 300 South African adults and children are on waiting lists for organs and cornea transplants. However, the number of South Africans willing to donate organs remains critically low at 0.2% of the country’s population, owing to cultural and religious reasons. 

Lifesaving organs and tissues that can be donated include the heart, liver, lungs, kidney, pancreas, corneas, skin bone and tendons. 

Renal patients are particularly vulnerable, given the very few renal dialysis slots available in the public health system of South Africa. 

The trend is likely to worsen, given the rising burden of non-communicable diseases in the country.  

The majority of donations in South Africa are deceased donations, with a small component being living donor transplants (e.g. kidney donors).  

SAMA said one donor can save as many as seven lives. 

For more information on organ and tissue donation, visit the Organ Donation Foundation website at www.odf.org.za. – SAnews.gov.za

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