Health and well-be­ing

Public Sector Manager - - Contents -

How you can save a life

Did you know that by sign­ing up to be­come an or­gan donor, you could save up to seven lives? Sadly, with less than 0.2 per­cent of South Africans hav­ing reg­is­tered as or­gan donors, the re­al­ity is that there is a dire short­age of or­gans avail­able for trans­plant in the coun­try.

De­spite on­go­ing ef­forts to ed­u­cate and pro­mote aware­ness on the im­por­tance of or­gan do­na­tion, the Or­gan Do­na­tion Foun­da­tion of South Africa con­tin­ues to bat­tle a long wait­ing list of pa­tients re­quir­ing or­gan and cornea trans­plants. About 4 300 South Africans are wait­ing for or­gan and cornea trans­plants.

What you need to know about or­gan do­na­tion

There there are two types of or­gan do­na­tion − de­ceased or­gan do­na­tion and live do­na­tion. De­ceased do­na­tion refers to in­stances where or­gans are har­vested from a de­ceased donor and trans­planted into other pa­tients on the or­gan donor wait­ing list.

Live trans­plants, usu­ally only oc­cur in kid­ney trans­plants, as a per­son is able to sur­vive with just one kid­ney. Here a donor match is found, usu­ally a friend or rel­a­tive, and they agree to do­nate one of their kid­neys to the pa­tient.

Most trans­plants in South Africa are con­ducted us­ing the or­gans of de­ceased donors, where donors have signed up for the na­tional or­gan donor reg­istry via the Or­gan Do­na­tion Foun­da­tion of South Africa. Donors are given a donor card and a sticker for their iden­tity doc­u­ment and driver's li­cence, from which they are iden­ti­fied as a po­ten­tial donor.

In most re­gions there is a shared wait­ing list be­tween state and pri­vate sec­tor units. Pa­tients are only put on the list once doc­tors are sat­is­fied that

they will ben­e­fit from an or­gan do­na­tion and are healthy enough to sur­vive the or­gan do­na­tion pro­ce­dure.

Once an or­gan be­comes avail­able for trans­plant, all suit­able re­cip­i­ents that match the donor's blood group will be cross-matched against the donor. In ad­di­tion to time on the wait­ing list, other fac­tors such as age, pre­vi­ous trans­plants and cur­rent health are taken into con­sid­er­a­tion when al­lo­cat­ing the or­gan.

The donor's fam­ily will then be re­quired to give con­sent for the or­gans to be har­vested and it is there­fore im­por­tant for donors to in­form fam­ily and friends of their de­ci­sion to be­come a donor.

How to reg­is­ter

You can reg­is­ter on­line at or call the Or­gan Donor Foun­da­tion's toll free line on 0800 22 66 11.They will then send you a donor card for your wal­let and a sticker for your iden­tity doc­u­ment and driver's li­cence.

Who can sign up?

Any­one that is in good health and clear of any chronic dis­ease or condition that may af­fect the re­cip­i­ent can be­come a donor.

Do I need med­i­cal tests to reg­is­ter?

No med­i­cal tests are con­ducted up­front and are only car­ried out at the time of death. Med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als eval­u­ate your med­i­cal and so­cial his­tory, carry out blood and cul­ture tests, and con­duct a phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion to en­sure that your or­gans are suit­able for do­na­tion.

Are there costs in­volved?

Sign­ing up to be­come a donor is com­pletely free. The hos­pi­tal cov­ers all med­i­cal ex­penses once your fam­ily gives con­sent for the do­na­tion.

Can I change my mind?

Donors can change their mind at any time. All they need to do is tear up their or­gan donor card and re­move the sticker from their iden­tity doc­u­ment and driver's li­cence. It's also a good idea to in­form friends and fam­ily that you no longer want to be an or­gan donor.

What or­gans can be do­nated?

Your heart, liver and pan­creas can save up to three lives, while your kid­neys and lungs can help up to four peo­ple.You can also opt to do­nate cer­tain or­gans only. Here you must in­form your fam­ily which or­gans you do not want to do­nate.

How soon after death will the or­gans be re­moved?

It is crit­i­cal that your or­gans are re­moved as soon as pos­si­ble after brain death has been de­clared to en­sure every pos­si­ble chance of a suc­cess­ful trans­plant.

By law, two in­de­pen­dent doc­tors will need to cer­tify brain death.

Supplied by: Govern­ment Em­ploy­ees Med­i­cal Scheme

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