NATIONAL NEWS - Organ donation is the medical process of taking an organ from a dead person, with the consent of their family, and surgically transplanting it into another person who is in dire need of an organ.
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 dead donated their organs.
The reality is that organ donors save lives. Organ donation is made possible by people who voluntarily 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 seven 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.
Here are the 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 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 religions approve and support organ donation as it is consistent with life preservation. If you are ever unsure, ask your spiritual leader.
Who can be a donor?
Anyone can be a potential donor. Irrespective of age, race or medical history. Donation professionals review medical history to determine if you can donate. With recent advances in transplantation, more people can donate than before.
A person is legible to become an organ donor if:
• They are in a 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.
The sad reality is that 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.
To become an organ donor, follow these easy steps:
1. Register online at www.odf.org.za or call the Organ Donor Foundations on toll-free number – 0800 22 66 11.
2. 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.
3. You will receive stickers to place on your ID document and driver’s licence.
4. 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.
5. Set up a living will in which you indicate your wishes to donate your organs should you die.
Organ donation is not a tragedy. But it can be a light in the midst of one.