There are currently about 4 300 adults and children are awaiting solid organ and tissue transplants in Mzansi. This according to Samantha Nicholls, the executive director of operations of the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa.
Nicholls joins this week’s episode of Sisters Without Shame to answer all our burning questions about organ donation in Mzansi.
Organ donation is a medical procedure where one person donates an organ, or tissue, to another person who needs a transplant.
Nicholls says that while Mzansi is a world leader in the field of organ transplantation, the demand for organs far exceeds supply throughout the world.
“Across the world there is a shortage of organ and tissue donation in South Africa,” she says. “There are many people waiting for transplant and not enough are receiving organs in time.”
Which parts of the body are harvested
People who need an organ or tissue transplant are usually very sick or dying, because one or more of their organs are failing. Ideally donors should be under the age of 70 and have no serious diseases or infections.
Through organ donation patients with life threatening illnesses can look forward to a new lease of life.
Organs are harvested by a living or deceased donor. A deceased donor needs to be medically assessed as having no chance of recovery and together with the family, the decision is to withdraw futile intensive care support.
“If you are in a car accident, or something happens, and you end up in a hospital brain dead, they keep you on a ventilator to sustain the organs and the blood flow and the oxygen.
“Two doctors have to diagnose you brain dead in South Africa and these are internationally recognised tests. Once that is determined they then approach the family and that is when the solid organs can be used. [As well as] the tissue is skin, bone, corneas, and heart valves.”
On this episode Samantha shares details on:
- How medical doctors determine brain death and the harvesting of the organs.
- What the criteria is for becoming an organ donor in South Africa.
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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