Health Q&A

Save Lives: Become an Organ Donor

October 17, 2018

August is National Organ Donor Awareness Month. This awareness month is in existence because there simply aren’t enough organ donors in South Africa. The number of patients waiting for transplants is increasing and the lack of potential donors is becoming more and more of a concern.

To put a statistic behind this, there are approximately 4,300 South African adults and children awaiting a life-saving organ and cornea transplant. This number is too high, which is why we want to tell you about organ donation in the hope you will register and one day become a lifesaver.

Life is busy and many people put off registering because of day-to-day distractions. But, there are people waiting for transplants now and they need you. One person can donate up to seven lifesaving organs, so by registering you could end up saving an incredible seven lives. Don’t put it off any longer – sign up now to save lives.

Which organs can be donated?

Most of the time, people choose to donate their organs once they’ve passed away. If this is the choice you make, you can donate your:

  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Kidneys
  • Lungs

In some cases, organs can be donated by living donors, typically this happens between relatives or close friends. The following organs can be donated by living donors:

  • One kidney
  • A lung
  • Part of the liver
  • Pancreas
  • Intestine

Unfortunately, it’s not just organs that are in need. There are also waiting lists for corneas and tissues, such as skin, bones, tendons and heart valves. Blood donations are also in constant demand. If you’re interested in donating blood, we have a first-time blood donor guide which gives you all you need to know.

Who can be an organ donor?

Anyone who is in good health and clear of any illnesses that may affect the recipient. If the donor is under 18, parental permission is required.

How does organ donation work?

If you’re giving a living donation, an evaluation will be done to ensure you’re a suitable donor and that you won’t experience any physical, psychological or emotional problems before, during or after the donation.

If you’re donating organs after you’ve passed away, the organs will be removed as soon as possible. As the surgery happens very quickly, there won’t be any delays with funeral arrangements and your family won’t incur any costs. There’s no major changes to the body appearance-wise, the organs are removed respectfully and a neat stitch or scar will be left like it would after any operation.

If you’re not giving a living donation, no medical tests will be required at the time of registration, this will only happen after you’ve passed away. This will involve medical professionals evaluating your medical and social history, carrying out blood tests and conducting a physical examination to ensure your organs are suitable for donation. If they are, your organs will be donated as per your wishes, potentially saving several lives.

How do I become an organ donor?

The process is simple and easy to do. You can either register online or you can call the Organ Donor Foundation’s toll-free line on 0800 22 66 11.

You will then be sent a small organ donor card to fill in and carry in your wallet. You’ll also receive a sticker to put on your ID and driver’s license.

Once you’ve registered to be an organ donor, it’s recommended that you discuss this decision with your family so that they can honour your request after you’ve passed away.

One day you could save an adult or a child from dying before their time. Don’t let life get in the way of your ability to save a life, in honour of Organ Donor Month register to be an organ donor today.

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