HOW DO I OBTAIN AN ORGAN DONOR BRACELET/NECKLACE/DISK?
Medic Alert and Elixir Medical Shields provide these items, not the Organ Donor Foundation. Please telephone Medic Alert on (021) 425 7328/ 0861 112 979 or Elixir Medical Shields on 0861 115 178 for further information.
HOW DO I BECOME A POTENTIAL ORGAN / TISSUE DONOR?
The process is straightforward. Register online or call the Organ Donor Foundation’s toll free line on 0800 22 66 11. We will then send you a small organ donor card to fill in and carry in your wallet. We will also send you a sticker to put on your ID document and on your driver’s license. It is very important to discuss the decision with your family. Let them know that you want to donate your organs / tissue after death. Ask them to honour your wish when you die.
WHO CAN BE AN ORGAN / TISSUE DONOR?
Any person who is in good health and is clear of defined chronic diseases that might adversely affect the recipient will be considered as a possible donor.
CAN I BE A DONOR IF I HAVE AN EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION?
Having a medical condition does not necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ / tissue donor. The decision about which organs / tissue will be transplanted will be established at your time of death.
DO I NEED MEDICAL TESTS TO REGISTER AS A DONOR?
No. Medical tests will only be carried out at the time of death. This will involve medical professionals evaluating your medical and social history, carrying out blood and culture tests and conducting a physical examination. This is done to ensure that your organs and tissue is suitable for donation.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION
An organ transplant takes place after an individual has been declared brain dead but is still being supported on a respirator, whereas tissue retrieval can still take place several hours and even days after death.
Another difference is that the recipient will receive the donated organ shortly after retrieval, whilst tissue is usually stored in a special Tissue Bank and is therefore available for use as and when needed.
WHICH ORGANS CAN BE TRANSPLANTED?
Your heart, liver and pancreas can save 3 lives and your kidneys and lungs can help up to 4 people. You can 7 seven lives.
WHICH TISSUES CAN BE TRANSPLANTED?
You can help up to 50 people by donating your corneas, skin, bone, tendons and heart valves.
CAN I AGREE TO DONATE ONLY SOME ORGANS OR TISSUE AND NOT OTHERS?
Yes. Please inform your family which organs / tissue you do not wish to donate.
HOW SOON AFTER DEATH SHOULD THE ORGANS / TISSUE BE REMOVED?
It is essential that organs are removed as soon as possible after brain death has been declared in order to ensure successful transplantation. Legislation requires brain death to be certified by two independent doctors.
In the case of tissue, a donation can take place up to a few days after death. Many people die at work or on the roads and never make it to the hospital. In such instances an organ donation would not be possible, however, a tissue donation, which is equally needed and valuable, can be successfully carried out.
WILL I KNOW WHO RECEIVES MY LOVED ONE’S ORGANS / TISSUE?
For privacy and legislative reasons, donors and recipients are not identified.
ARE TISSUE TRANSPLANTS COMMON?
Bone tissue transplants are the second most common transplant performed on patients, second only to blood transfusions. Many thousands of patients receive allograft tissue every year, most of which comes from non-living donors whose loved ones consented to donation.
IS THERE ANY COST INVOLVED IN SIGNING UP AS AN ORGAN / TISSUE DONOR?
No, it costs nothing to sign up as an organ / tissue donor.
DOES MY FAMILY PAY FOR THE COST OF DONATION?
No, the donor and his/her family will not incur any costs. The hospital or Tissue Bank will cover all medical expenses from the moment your family has given consent for the donation of organs / tissue.
WOULD MY FAMILY RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR DONATING MY ORGANS / TISSUE?
No. Organ / tissue donation is a gift.
CAN PEOPLE BUY OR SELL ORGANS AND TISSUE?
No, organ / tissue donation is a Gift of Life from one family to another. Trading in organs and tissue is illegal and prohibited.
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. This ensures a higher success rate.
HOW DO DOCTORS KNOW I AM REALLY DEAD?
Two doctors, who are completely independent of the transplant team, have to perform detailed tests before a person can be declared brain dead. The criteria for brain death is very strictly adhered to and accepted medically, legally and ethically in South Africa and internationally.
CAN DOCTORS KEEP ME ALIVE ON SUPPORT SYSTEMS?
All potential organ donors are patients on support systems. Tests are carried out to determine brain death. Once brain death is certified, permission is obtained for organ donation. Death of the organ donor is defined by the time of certification of brain death, not by the withdrawal of support.
DOES BEING A DONOR DELAY THE FUNERAL?
No. As soon as the donated organs / tissue has been removed, the body is returned to the family to bury or cremate.
DOES ORGAN / TISSUE DONATION LEAVE MY BODY DISFIGURED?
No. The utmost respect and dignity is given to the donor at all times. The recovery of organs and tissue is carried out with great care by surgeons and trained staff and the process does not change the way the body looks.
STEPS YOUR FAMILY NEEDS TO TAKE TO ENSURE YOUR WISHES ARE CARRIED OUT:
Speak to the medical professional attending to your loved one – physician, ICU & trauma unit nurse, neurologist, etc. Inform them of your loved ones wishes. Ask for contact details of the closest transplant centre or call the Organ Donor Foundation's Toll Free Line 0800 22 66 11 for assistance.
ARE THERE RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS TO TRANSPLANTATION?
Most religions support organ and tissue donation as it is consistent with life preservation. If you are unsure, you should talk to your spiritual leader.
CAN I CHANGE MY MIND?
Yes. You can change your mind at any time. Simply tear up your organ donor card and remove the sticker from your ID document and driver’s license. Please inform your family that you no longer wish to be an organ / tissue donor.
Please contact the Organ Donor Foundation on:
0800 22 66 11 Toll Free line DURING OFFICE HOURS, or
082 318 4376 Emergency line AFTER HOURS.
An Organ Donor Foundation staff member will ask you to provide the following details:
They will thereafter pass on the information provided to the nearest transplant centre or tissue bank.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: SOLID ORGANS such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas can only be donated if your loved one has been diagnosed with brain death and is on a ventilator in a hospital. In this case, upon receiving your call, the Organ Donor Foundation will pass on the information to the nearest transplant centre and soon thereafter a transplant coordinator will contact you.
TISSUE such as bone, skin, corneas and heart valves may be used if your loved one is either on a ventilator or has already passed away and their body is at the mortuary or undertakers. In this case, a representative from the Tissue Banks or Eye Bank will be in touch with you.
THE ORGAN DONOR FOUNDATION IS NOT A MEDICAL ORGANISATION AND OFFERS THE ABOVE SERVICE TO ASSIST WITH ORGAN AND TISSUE REFERRALS ONLY. OUR STAFF MEMBERS ARE NOT TRAINED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.
Thank you for taking this step to ensure your loved ones wishes are honored during such a traumatic time.