Ethics is everything.

It is of vital importance that every step of the organ and tissue donation journey which living donors, donor families and recipients experience, is safeguarded by a set of ethical principals and best practice procedures.

You’ve all heard them. The horror stories. Tall tales of murky dealings with human organs and tissue. And we bet that when you heard the stories, you wondered if you should register as an organ and tissue donor? If it was safe? If you, your donation, or your loved ones would be negatively impacted by your choice?
As Vitanova, the connective tissue bank of South Africa, we want to tell you today that organ and tissue donation in South Africa is safe and ethical.
Vitanova, the connective tissue bank of South Africa.

Here’s why:

Besides the fact that we are an ISO-9001 compliant tissue bank, registered and licensed by the National Department of Health, with professional and highly trained staff, all of us do this work heart-first. 

We care. About donors, donor families, the amazing partners we work with and the donation recipients we help. We care about organ and tissue donation in South Africa, and we work constantly at all levels to make sure we can be compared to the best in the world.

From investment to create this state-of-the-art facility in the Western Cape, creating local jobs, forging partnerships with medical professionals, hospitals, other associations, and government to enable donations, to influencing laws and regulations about organ and tissue donation, our aim is to grow and develop organ and tissue donation in South Africa so that patients may benefit.

SATiBA – providing a pathway.

We are fortunate to have many dedicated people whose life’s work, organ and tissue donation benefits from.

One of them, Vitanova’s own Recovery and Awareness Manager, Sandra Venter, has dedicated her career to improving organ and tissue donation in South Africa.

Sandra, who is also the current President of SATiBA, says ‘Deceased donation always has the potential for controversy, which makes it important for the South African organ and tissue donation sector to stay up to date with, and follow international standards and ethical codes for organ and tissue donation. We need to do what is right for our patients, the people we work with and for our culture.’

Having recognised that there is a need for the organ and tissue donation sector in South Africa to take responsibility for its own future and development, through cooperation and agreement between the various stake holders, she was instrumental in the conceptualising and establishment of SATiBA – the South African Tissue Bank Association in 2015. SATiBA supports all South African tissue banks in regulatory and legal matters, data collection, training, accreditation, quality assurance, communication, and collaboration.

Vitanova is a proud member of SATiBA, and the association assists us through:


  • Providing a Code of Conduct
  • Monitoring, communicating, and promoting global tissue banking standards
  • Fostering collaboration between association members, government, partners, and international role players for the benefit of South African patients
  • Improving access to, and promoting equal and fair utilisation of cells and tissue
  • Educating on best practice in terms of
    • Fair and ethical tissue recovery, banking, and distribution
    • Protecting and respecting patient privacy, dignity, and preferences

We are part of a much bigger picture.

Through SATiBA, Vitanova is part of a global network of excellence when it comes to organ and tissue donation.
Recently, SATiBA hosted the 6th SATiBA Congress in Stellenbosch and invited experts from all over the world to attend. Vitanova attended and the three-day congress was highly informative. Sessions included:

  • hands-on training for recovery technicians hosted by Martin Borgel and Jan Kniese from the DGFG, the largest tissue network in Germany
  • product demonstrations
  • a lecture on pioneering cell therapy research by Prof Michael Pepper
  • case studies on burn wound treatment with donated skin
  • an introduction to the Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations who is improve access to donor corneas worldwide

Several discussions about ethics in donation and transplantation took place and Prof Melodie Labuschaigne from UNISA updated us on the legal and ethical issues relating to the sharing of stored human biological samples and related data to third parties.

And we are here for you.

Everything we do is so that you, as a prospective organ and tissue donor, or a living organ and tissue donor can rest assured that you are making an incredible contribution into a process that aims to safeguard you at every step.

The law, regulations and our Code of Conduct dictates how consent should work, how next of kin should be approached, how tissue should be recovered, treated, and transplanted and how important privacy is for all role players.
We work within this framework because we proudly believe we are building a sector that will provide for South African patients long after we laid a solid foundation.
Read more about the way we work here:
If you have any questions, let us know. We’d love to talk it through with you.

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