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Become an organ donor.

According to the Organ Donor Foundation (2013) 4300 South African adults and children are awaiting solid organ transplants that could be lifesaving or life enhancing. South Africa has one the lowest organ donation rates in the world (2-3 per million population, compared to 13 per million in the United Kingdom and 30 per million in Spain.)


In an attempt to increase the number of organ donors, Groote Schuur Hospital today launched the organ donation drive. This is a provincial initiative and is an important step to improve the wellness of people who need organs. Today’s launch focused on the role “family” plays and the importance of communicating to them about organ donation and make sure you are registered.


Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha,  said, “Patients are dying because of a shortage of organ donations that could save lives and patients waiting for organs require on-going care while their health deteriorates, which places an increased burden on the health services.  By becoming an organ donor, you could save the lives of up to seven people. It’s not only organs that are transplanted, but other tissue is also used, for example, skin can be transplanted onto patients with severe burns. As a country, we need to aim for at least 1% of the South African population being registered as organ donors by the end of 2014 and we will start to save lives,”

There are currently 16 hospitals in South Africa where transplants are performed. Kidney transplants are done at all centres. Liver transplants are done at Johannesburg Academic Hospital, the Donald Gordon Medical Centre and in Cape Town at Groote Schuur Hospital and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. Heart and lung transplants are offered at Groote Schuur and Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospitals in Cape Town as well as Milpark in Johannesburg and Ethekwini Hospital in Durban. Pancreatic transplants are currently available only in Johannesburg. In addition to Groote Schuur Hospital in the Western Cape, transplants are also done at Tygerberg Hospital.

Organ transplantation is the surgical removal of an organ or tissue from one person (the donor) and placing it into another person (the recipient). The beneficiaries could be people with end stage solid organ disease (kidney, heart, liver, pancreas, lung) or people receiving tissue donation. (bone, bone marrow, corneas, skin or heart valves). Most donated organs are from people who have died (cadaver donation), but living persons also donate organs(kidney) and tissue such as blood, stem cells, platelets, etc. Organ donation saves lives

There are different factors that is resulting in the low organ donation rates in the country. But what are we going to do to try and increase the numbers. Strategies that we will start in the province are:

· Establishing a single organ donor database

· Supporting existing programs

· Improving accessibility of information

· Increasing opportunities for organ donation at hospitals

· Addressing information gaps about organ donation

· Supporting families and clinicians

With the implementation of these strategies and work between the private sector and the department there should be an increase in organ donations in the province.

People are also encouraged to become donors by contacting the Organ Donor Foundation 0800 226611 or go onto the ODF Website to register as donors. More importantly they need to tell their family of their wishes and that they have registered with the ODF.  At the time of the person’s death, the law requires that the family give their consent for organ donation by signing a consent form.

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