20 November 2020

Organ donation is the medical process of taking an organ from a deceased person, with the consent of their family and friends, and surgically transplanting it into another person who is in dire need of an organ.

The Organ Donor Foundation (ODF) is the national umbrella body for the promotion of organ and tissue donation. ODF actively plan and implement education and publicity programmes that are designed to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation with the aim being to prime individuals towards consent.

The Foundation has two main focuses:

To raise awareness amongst the entire South African population about the need for, and the benefits of, organ and tissue donation transplantation.

To advocate, motivate, and educate normal human beings to pledge to donate their organs after death. To spread awareness about the importance of organ donation. To create awareness about the massive population that dies due to organ failure, this is the result of Organ shortage in South Africa.

Also, to eliminate the fears, perception and the myths people have in their mind about organ donation. The focus is to address that Organ donation can be life-changing for many. 

The practice can give a new life to the ones in need.

Fears & misconceptions

There are many fears and misconceptions about organ donation. These fears and misconceptions prevent people from considering donating their organs when they die. This leads to many preventable organ failure deaths that could have been prevented, had the deceased donate their organs.

Here are the a few misconceptions:

Will the donation delay the funeral?

No. The body is returned to the family for burial or cremation as soon as the donated organs and/or and tissues have been removed.

Will the donation leave my body disfigured?

No. Extreme amounts of respect and dignity is given to every single donor. The method of removing the organs and tissues is done so with such great care that the process does not change the body’s appearance.

Are there any religious obligations to organ transplantation?

Most religious approve and support of organ donation as it is consistent with life preservation. If you are ever unsure, ask your spiritual leader.

The reality

The reality is that organ donors save lives. Organ Donation is made possible by people who voluntary decide to donate their organs and tissue for transplantation.   There are two types of transplants, organ, and tissue transplants. The organs (heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and lungs) can save 7 lives. The tissues (corneas, bone, tendons, heart valves, skin) can help up to 50 people. By becoming a donor, a person has the potential to help over 50 people when they die. They can help give life once theirs has come to an end.

You do not have to donate all your organs when you die. You can specify what you want to donate.

Who can be a donor?

The sad reality, the need for life-saving organ transplants is increasing much faster than the organs are becoming available. Organ transplants have saved millions of lives, but every day, more critically ill patients are added to the national waiting list.  However, by becoming an organ donor you can possibly be the difference between life or death for someone else.  Here’s how you can become an organ donor.

Anyone can be a potential donor. Irrespective of age, race or medical history can have their organs donated.  Donation professionals review medical history to determine if you can donate. With recent advances in transplantation, more people can donate than before.

  New-born babies and even the elderly have been organ donors. If a donor is under the age of 18, the consent of a parent or legal guardian is required. Adults can also make living donations, meaning that a living adult can choose to give an organ, like a kidney, or part of an organ, like a liver, to someone in need.

A person is legible to become an organ donor if:

  • They are in good physical and mental health condition
  • They are willing to donate out of kindness, without expecting anything in return
  • They are not donating under compulsion
  • They are aware of the process of organ donation, the benefits as well as the risks

How to become an organ donor?

By becoming a donor, you can be the difference between life or death for someone else. The process is very simple, just follow these easy steps:

  1.  Register online at www.odf.org.za or call the Organ Donor Foundation’s

on toll-free number – 0800 22 66 11.

  • You will then be sent an organ donor card which you will need to fill out. Always carry this card with you. It is suggested you keep it in your wallet or purse.
  • You will receive stickers to place on your ID document and driver’s license.
  • Discuss your decision with your family so they are aware that you are now an organ donor. Ask your loved ones to respect and honour your decision. It is very important that you make the people around you aware of your wishes.
  • Set up a living will in which you indicate your wishes to donate your organs should you die.

How much will donation cost?

Donation costs absolutely nothing. By our laws, the Hospital and or Tissue Bank will cover all medical expenses from the moment your family gives consent to have your organs/tissue donated.

The donor and their family do not receive any compensation for donating any organs or tissue. Donation is a gift and should come from kindness.

Organ donation is made possible by Heroes – people who voluntarily decide to donate organs and tissues for transplant.

You can always change your mind

At the end of the day, organ donation is a personal choice. If you change your mind, you will need to tear up your donor card and remove the stickers from you ID and driver’s license. You must also inform your family and friends that you no longer wish to donate your organs or tissues when you die. It is as simple as that.

The number of people awaiting transplants. Continue to increase. The shortage of potential donors remains a great concern. So, Go On Save A Life. Register today As An organ donor.

Organ donation is not a tragedy. But it can be a beautiful light in the midst of one.

Article written By Sammy Nandlall
She is one of the Volunteer Ambassador’s for the ODF. Advocating on the importance of organ donor registration

Sammy Nandlall