The Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, was the honorary guest at a media conference to highlight the need for more donors in the Western Cape and specifically the desperate need of children on the transplant waiting list who need life-saving organ transplants. Premier Zille offered the children a message of hope and encouragement at the media conference held at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital on 4 July 2014.
The Organ Donor Foundation has named 7 July (07/07) Save Seven Lives Day and this has become an annual date published on the health calendar.
Currently, at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, there are six children on the active list urgently requiring a liver transplant to ensure their survival and 37 on the inactive list who will require a liver transplant in the future. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of children who are on dialysis treatment at the hospital, with 17 children being dialysed and awaiting a kidney transplant and only two patients have healthy living relatives as a transplant option. Some of these children have been on dialysis for almost five years – a very long time in a child’s life.
Nationally there are over 4 300 South Africans awaiting organ and cornea transplants. Less than 600 transplants are performed each year and many adults and children die waiting for a life-saving transplant.
One person can Save Seven Lives when they become an organ donor – this includes the use of one heart, two lungs, two kidneys, one liver and one pancreas. One donor can also improve the quality of life of up to 50 more people by donating their tissue – their skin, bone, heart valves and corneas.
In South Africa less than 0.2% of the population are registered organ donors. If compared to other countries such as the USA, who have 37% of their population as registered organ donors and Australia (whose awareness campaigns are entirely funded by their government) who have 24% of their population as registered organ donors, we must admit that this is an extremely shocking and low statistic for South Africa.
There are challenging factors resulting in the low organ donation rates in South Africa. The first is the lack of thorough awareness and comprehensive education on the subject of organ donation and the lack of resources available to the Organ Donor Foundation. The second is the lack of development and the deterioration of available medical infrastructure that severely impacts the effectiveness and growth of organ referrals in South Africa.
The public are encouraged to become donors by visiting the Organ Donor Foundation’s website at www.odf.org.za or calling their Toll Free Line on 0800 22 66 11. It’s a simple procedure to sign up, only takes a few minutes of your time and is free of charge. Please remember to discuss the decision with your family as they will need to give consent at the time of your death.
One organ donor can Save Seven Lives. Please Say Yes to organ donation.
Principal Communications Officer: Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
Tel: 021 658 5448
For more information on the Organ Donor Foundation contact:
Executive Director: Organ Donor Foundation
Tel: 021 426 0198