Despite having one of the largest populations in the world—more than 60 million people—the Organ Donor Foundation estimates that there are only 410,000 registered organ donors in SA.
Accordingly, just 2% of the minimum 4,700 people in need of life-saving organ transplants obtain a vital organ each year.
Samantha Nicholls, the foundation's executive director of operations, claims that during the COVID-19 pandemic's peak in 2020, the strain on medical services nearly caused transplant services to cease operations.
"The number of deceased donors fell from 92 to 38 during the pandemic.
In the realm of transplantation, though, getting back to normal won't ever imply that the race to catch up is gone. Nicholls asserts that it is never over.
August is Organ Donor Month, and Nicholls is explaining how organ donation and transplantation work as the foundation urges individuals to sign up as donors to save lives.
"We implore every South African to register as an organ donor, to tell their family about their decision, and to encourage their relatives and friends to do the same.
"It is quick, easy, and costs nothing, but this simple action saves lives because an increase in donor registrations leads to an increase in organ transplants," adds Nicholls.
What are organ transplantation and donation?
When a family agrees to have a loved one who has been declared brain dead and is being kept alive by a ventilator donate their organs to up to seven patients in need of a transplant, this is known as organ donation. The heart, liver, pancreas, two kidneys, and two lungs are the seven organs that the donor may donate. Alternatively, a person in need of a kidney or liver transplant can get a kidney or a portion of a liver from a live donor.
What significance does organ donation have?
Donating organs helps save lives. A life-saving organ transplant is the sole chance for recovery for someone who has experienced end-stage organ failure. As patients needing a life-saving organ transplant range in age from newborns to adults, one must also take into account the fact that end-stage organ failure does not make distinctions based on gender, age, or social class. Patients who do not obtain an organ transplant promptly will unfortunately pass away. Another unpleasant reality is that there are many more patients in need of transplants than there are donated organs. Additionally, organ donation lowers health care expenses, improves life quality, fosters independence, and boosts economic production. Donating organs is a lifeline.
How do folks in need benefit from these organs?
It offers a lifeline to someone with advanced organ failure. While many patients wait years for a transplant, others pass away because they do not get one in time. Dialysis will be administered continuously to patients awaiting kidney transplants, but due to the high number of South Africans with end-stage kidney disease, there are not enough dialysis facilities to treat everyone, and those who do not receive this treatment will perish.
In comparison to registered donors, what is the need for organ donation and transplantation?
Only 2% of patients who need a life-saving organ transplant within a year receive one from a deceased donor, even though there are at least 4,700 patients on the waiting list at any given moment. This means that just 100 of the 4,700 persons each year can obtain a transplant from a deceased donor.
What do these numbers indicate? How does this affect those who require organ transplants?
The data are shocking because they demonstrate the stark discrepancy between the number of persons in need of organ transplants and the number of donated organs. This means that the majority of patients with end-stage organ failure will pass away before receiving a transplant, or they will have to wait years, if not decades, for one.
What organ is most in demand?
The kidney is the organ that is both most commonly transplanted and most in need.
Can a family decide to give an organ at the last minute? What steps would they need to take?
Only those who have been determined to be brain-dead by two different medical practitioners and are now receiving support from a ventilator are eligible to donate organs. When a person experiences brain death, messages can no longer go to and from the brain, and after the ventilator is turned off, they will never again be able to breathe independently.
We ask that the family call our toll-free number at 0800 22 66 11 during business hours or the after-hours emergency hotline at 082 318 4376 as soon as a death occurs so that a staff member can help. A transplant coordinator will give the required information, care, and assistance with the process. As an alternative, the family can express their wishes for their loved one to be a donor to the medical personnel who are treating them.
How can one sign up to donate their organs?
Online at www.odf.org.za or by calling our toll-free number at 0800 22 66 11, registration is quick and simple. Alternatively, South Africans can sign up on Facebook, by scanning a QR code, or by completing the registration form on the back of one of our pamphlets. After registering, it is essential to inform one's family of their plan to become a donor because donations cannot be made without the next-of-kin's approval.
Do people have to undergo medical exams to register as organ donors?
No, because the essential tests to determine whether the organs are appropriate for donation will be performed at the moment of death.
Who cannot donate their organs?
There are only a small number of illnesses that would disqualify someone from being an organ donor, such as cases when the potential donor has cancer that is actively progressing, serious infections, viral meningitis, or active tuberculosis. Many times, individuals are unaware that an HIV-positive donor can give to an HIV-positive recipient. No matter their age or disease, the Organ Donation Foundation urges everyone to sign up as donors because the necessary medical examinations will be performed at the moment of death. Even if one organ cannot be donated, there is still a chance that the remaining organs may be able to save lives or that the tissue of the donor would be able to enhance lives.
Get inspired by these stories and start your own cool deeds. Let’s fill every neighborhood with good and cool activities. Start your first GroupUp activity or event, invite others, register participants & share your cool deeds so others can follow. Use CoolDeeds.com absolutely free tools to start your initiative. All for FREE, click here to start now.
Get inspiration and pick a date and create an "Event / Group Up" at www.cooldeeds.com. It is absolutely FREE. There are so many ideas on www.CoolDeeds.com, let's take one and go with it or come up with your own ideas and start something good and cool in your neighborhood. Click here to get started.
Share it on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts to announce. Send an invite to your friends, neighbors and family to join the "Event / Group Up".
Perform the event, take images, videos, and share on www.CoolDeeds.com to inspire the world so others can do the same in their community and neighborhood.
You did it.......Even if you did this alone, you should be proud of yourself as we surely are. Let's start creating an "Event / Group Up" today. Please note CoolDeeds.com is absolutely FREE for all the above activities. Our only purpose is to spread good and cool activities everywhere.