Johannesburg - There is a critical shortage of organ donors in South Africa, the Organ Donor Foundation said on Friday.
“Many, many people die waiting for a transplant,” the foundation's executive director Samantha Volschenk said at the Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg.
She was addressing a panel of medical experts, patients, and media.
“There are currently 4300 adults and children awaiting transplants, with less than 600 transplants being performed a year,” said Volschenk.
Kidneys were most in demand.
“Many patients suffer kidney failure,” said Volschenk.
Other organs in demand included livers, hearts, and lungs.
“If patients don't get the organs they require, they will die,” she said.
Organ donation in the country remained stagnant, despite growing awareness on social media networks.
“In the last 24 months there has been an 80 to 90 percent growth in our social media and internet campaigns,” said Volschenk.
One of the people on the panel, specialist and transplant surgeon Dr Anna Sparaco, said there were no barriers to being a potential organ donor.
“Everyone can be a donor,” she said.
“People can come in and volunteer and the process will start with evaluation to check if they are a possible donor,” she said.
Organ donation was a viable option as people only needed half a liver and only one of their two kidneys to survive.
“You can be a living donor,” said Sparaco.
Organ donation in South Africa was particularly important due to the population size, as well as the large number of diseases in the country.
The ratio of two donors for every million people was also one of the main reasons why organ donations were so important in the country.
“In Spain there are 33 donors per million people,” said Sparaco.
The foundation was not directly involved in medical procedures and processes, but focused on awareness of the shortage of organ donors.
“We are involved in all types of awareness campaigns relating to organ transplant including media interviews, talks at schools and seminars,” said Volschenk.