Over 4 000 South African adults and children are desperately waiting for a second chance at life - through organ donation.
But the uptake has been slow, largely driven by misconceptions, cultural beliefs and fear.
While donated organs have saved the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people across the world, including South Africa; the South African Medical Association (SAMA) has once again urged all South Africans to consider listing themselves as organ donors
August is Organ Donor Month in South Africa so to raise awareness on the critical deficiency of donor organs in our country resulting in long waiting lists for organ transplants with potential negative consequences for those waiting for a lifesaving transplant.
According to Sama, 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.
"Organ Donor Month is a commendable 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," the organisation said in a statement.
Lifesaving organs and tissues which 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. donating a kidney.
SAMA again urged all of us to consider becoming organ donors. One donor can save as many as seven lives.
The issue is summed up in a previous ODF slogan : “Don’t take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them”
For more information on organ and tissue donation, visit the Organ Donation Foundation website at www.odf.org.za
(Adapted from press release)