By registering as a donor, during Organ Donor Month (August), you can make a difference.
Samantha Nicholls, executive director for the Organ Donor Foundation, said that in South Africa there are 4 300 people waiting for organ and tissue transplants.
“Sadly less than 600 of them will receive a second chance, but by registering and expressing your wish to be a donor you can help save lives,” she said.
She added that the utmost respect is taken when recovering the organs and tissue to ensure that the donor’s body is not disfigured.
“Bone tissue transplants are the second most common transplants performed on patients, second only to blood transfusions.”
Thousands of patients receive allograft tissue every year, most of which comes from non-living donors.
How to become a donor
Any person who is in good health and does not have a chronic disease that could affect the recipient may become a possible donor.
To register as a donor, log onto www.odf.org.za and follow the prompts. You can also contact the call centre on 0800 22 66 11.
You will receive an organ donor card and stickers for your ID book and drivers’ licence.
“You can also decide which organs you would like to donate, this should be discussed with your family,” said Nicholls.
Two independent doctors will assess the donor to confirm brain death by running a series of tests. Once this is done the family gives the final consent and the tests are done to see which organs and/or tissue can be used for transplantation.
“The waiting list is checked for a match in that specific region. There is specific criteria for matching a donor to a recipient, such as blood and tissue type match. With heart, the height and weight and condition will play a role,” she said.
The criteria for brain death is very strictly adhered to and accepted medically, legally and ethically in South Africa and internationally.
Should you no longer wish to be a donor, you can simply remove the stickers and tear up the organ donor card.