Village Talk



August is National Organ and tissue awareness month in South Africa and Transplant Education for Living Legacies (TELL) is on a mission to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.

They are also encouragin­g everyone to have the conversati­on with their family and friends and make it known that they wish to one day become an organ donor.

TELL was created by, and is run by patients who have first-hand experience of the life changing effect of an organ transplant.

This month TELL is highlighti­ng eight reasons why organ and tissue donation is so important.

Organ donation is an opportunit­y to help others

One day, when you pass away and no longer need your organs, you can leave a legacy behind and save patients on a waiting list for a lifesaving organ. Life is the best gift you can give!

“I don’t know how much time I had left but I knew if I didn’t get lungs soon I would die. My donor didn’t give me a second chance, they gave me a first chance at life and I am forever grateful,” says Fawn Kruger, a double lung transplant recipient.

Lessen the need for expensive and intrusive treatments

The waiting list for a kidney in South Africa is one to 15 years and while patients wait they need to get treatment in a dialysis centre, 12 hours a week.

Some 20 000 new patients are diagnosed with kidney failure every year in South Africa and the cost of sustaining one person on dialysis per annum is approximat­ely R280 000.

If more transplant­s take place, it opens up space for others to get treatment on dialysis, as in the state sector, dialysis treatments are rationed; only patients eligible for a transplant will have access to dialysis.

Create a positive ripple effect on family and friends

When a patient is saved, it’s not only life changing for that patient but also means a mom hasn’t had to bury a daughter, a husband hasn’t had to say goodbye to their wife or perhaps kids have more time with their mom.

Change peoples’ lives

Some patients lived a relatively normal life before their body went into organ failure. When you gift someone a new organ they are able to resume the lifestyle they once had.

For other patients, due to a chronic illness they may have never experience­d life with a healthy organ. For these patients, transplant­ation is life changing and you as a donor are not only extending their life but improving the quality of their life.

It costs nothing to be a donor There are no financial costs involved in being an organ and tissue donor for the family of the donor. All the costs will be covered by the recipient’s medical aid or the state hospital.

Transplant­ation is a cost effective treatment readily available. It may take years of medical technology to come up with an alternativ­e treatment option so we need to make use of organ donation while we can.

Living donors also fill a crucial need as the shortage of deceased donors continues.

A living donor can donate a kidney or a portion of their liver to a friend or family member or even altruistic­ally (to a stranger) and continue to live a normal life.

People waiting for a kidney transplant make up more than 80% of people on the organ waiting list and people waiting for a liver transplant make up approximat­ely 12%.

Allow patients to contribute to society

When someone goes through end stage organ failure, there is not much time to live.

They are bound to treatments, strict medication regimes, dietary restrictio­ns, invasive tests and constant check-ups and hospital admissions.

Their only dream is to receive a transplant and they have little mental or physical energy to do much else.

After such a traumatic and life changing experience, many transplant patients go on to give back to society as they are filled with gratitude.

Some day, it could be your own family or loved one who needs an organ and can benefit from another’s generosity.

Peace of mind that you’re doing the right thing

You are six times more likely to need an organ than to be able to donate one.

With this in mind, it’s important to ask yourself - if you or your loved ones ever needed an organ, would you accept one? If the answer is yes then it’s only fair that you repay the favour and tell your family that you too would like to donate your organs one day.

There are no age restrictio­ns on organ donation and even people with chronic diseases can be donors. The transplant team will assess the donor’s suitabilit­y at the time of death. Everyone can give something.

Organ donation can be a rewarding experience

When your loved ones make the decision to donate your organs it can help a family work through the grieving process and deal with their loss.

It brings comfort to know their loved one’s death had one positive outcome - that of potentiall­y saving the lives of up to eight people and improving the quality of life of up to 72 people by donating tissue. • For more informatio­n about organ and tissue donation, please visit za

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