Become An Organ Donor, Give The Gift Of Life

June 30, 2021

Candyce Krishna, Northglen News

Did you know that the only combined heart and lung centre for organ transplant in South Africa is situated right here in uMhlanga?

Situated at Busamed Gateway Private Hospital, Transplant Co-ordinator Cindy Goldie, said her job is to procure, obtain consent and counsel family members prior to harvesting the organs.

“Unfortunately not many people register as an organ donor or let their family know of their last wishes so often, I have to ask the family’s permission first,” she said.

So, how does one become an organ donor?

“It’s really simple. All you have to do is inform your family of your decision. You could also register on the website which is a better option as your details will be added to a database. Some people include this in their will, which is not ideal as wills aren’t read in time to harvest organs,” she said.

Goldie added that funeral homes, nurses, paramedics, firemen, policemen or whoever is at a scene should be more active in advocating organ donation.

“If staff at funeral homes asked people what their loved ones end of life wishes were, or if they would like to donate their loved one’s organs, we could save more lives. The same applies to whoever reports to a scene when someone has died.”

In many cases, even when a person does not speak of donating their organs, families are still able to make this decision based on their loved one’s personality.

“You would know if your family member would have wanted to donate their organs to save more lives and often, that’s how we obtain organs for donation. The deceased’s family makes the decision.”

Goldie explained that there are different types of donors.

  • A living donor can donate blood, bone marrow, kidney and half a liver as the liver has the ability to regenerate.
  • A deceased donor – when a person’s heart stops beating – can donate tissue, cornea, skin, bone and heart valves.
  • A brainstem dead donor, also known as a heart-beating donor is when a person is on artificial life support. These donors can donate heart, lung, liver, pancreas and kidney.

“Heart tissue is absolutely amazing. Even if you take it out of the body and but you give it oxygen, it will keep beating. The most needed organ is the kidney. Renal failure is popular in HIV/Aids patients as it’s the leading illness. Hypertension and diabetes also leads to renal failure.”

Goldie added that the two important types of tissue donors which are hip donors as the bone can be re-purposed to make bone cement, bone chips and bone match sticks for reconstructive surgery. The other organ that can be donated is the placenta from a mother who has given birth via caesarean section. This is a fairly new treatment but has shown great results. It is still in a trial process, pending approval.

Five placentas were donated by four nurses and a doctor to help five young burn victims in membrane has been used as a dressing for burns, repair tendons and ligaments, patch an eye if waiting for a cornea as well as orthodontic work.

“It’s a sterile sheet. It’s a temporary dressing while doctors are trying to save lives.”

“The hip bone can be used for reconstructive surgery to fill spaces in metal plates. If a child had cancer of the bone in a limb, previously surgeons would amputate the limb but now they can remove a big chunk and put donor bone in its place.”

Organ donation can save up to seven lives, or can improve the lives of up to 65 people with tissue donation.

“How do you you put a value or measure to knowing that you may have saved and improved the lives of that many people? If you have died or are brainstem dead, we only have one chance to get it right. Some organs are extremely time sensitive so speak to your family about their wishes and register to become an organ donor.”

Register at https://www.odf.org.za


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