FAQs: Organ Donation
Posted on 29 August 2016
According to the Organ Donor Foundation, there are approximately 4 300 South African adults and children awaiting a life-saving organ or cornea transplant. Since August is National Organ Donor Month in South Africa, here’s everything you need to know to register to become an organ donor, thanks to information from www.odf.org.za
How do I become a potential organ/tissue donor?
The process is straightforward. Register online or call the Organ Donor Foundation toll-free on 0800 22 66 11. They will then send you a small organ donor card to fill in and carry in your wallet, as well as a sticker to put on your ID document and driver’s license. You may also consider wearing an organ donor bracelet/necklace/disc – the Organ Donor Foundation does not supply these, but you can get in touch with Medic Alert on 0861 112 979, or Elixir Medical Shields on 0861 115 178 for more information.
It’s vital you discuss your decision to become an organ donor with your family and let them know you want to donate your organs after death so they can honour your wishes. It costs nothing to sign up as an organ donor – your donation is considered a gift and you/your family will not be compensated for your organs/tissue. Trading in organs and tissue is illegal. If you’re unsure about becoming an organ donor based on your religious views, speak to your spiritual leader.
Who can be an organ/tissue donor?
Anyone who is in good health and is clear of any defined chronic diseases that might adversely affect the recipient of your organs will be considered as a possible donor. Having a medical condition doesn’t necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ donor – the decision about which organs will be transplanted will be established at your time of death.
Which organs can be transplanted and how many lives can you potentially save?
Your heart, liver and pancreas can save three lives, and your kidneys and lungs can help up to four people. You can save seven lives. You can help up to 50 people by donating your corneas, skin, bones and heart valves. You must inform your family which tissues/organs you wish to donate, as well as those you don’t.
Can I donate an organ/tissue while I am alive?
Yes, in some cases. Live donations, such as a kidney, are often done between family members because the blood groups and tissue types are more compatible, which ensures a high success rate.
How long after death do the organs/tissue have to be removed?
It is essential that organs/tissue are removed as soon as possible after brain death in order to ensure successful transplantation. Brain death has to be certified by two independent doctors. As soon as the donated organs/tissue have been removed, the body is returned to the family to bury or cremate. The recovery of organs and tissue are carried out with great care by surgeons and trained staff, and the process does not change the way the body looks.
Does my family pay for the cost of donation?
No, the hospital or State will cover all medical expenses from the moment of diagnosis of brain death and when your family has given consent for the removal of organs/tissue.
Can I change my mind about donating my organs/tissue?
Yes, you can change your mind at any time. Simply tear up your organ donor card, and remove your sticker from your ID document and driver’s license. Also inform your family that you no longer wish to be an organ donor.
Source: Organ Donor Foundation