How We Work
Ethics Is Everything
Every person who donates, and every family who agrees to donation deserves our very best for the immeasurable gift that they gave.
That’s why we work as part of the wider transplantation community in South Africa, adhere to relevant laws and regulations, conform to international best practices, and strive to exceed international quality standards in tissue donation, processing and storage.
Tissue Donation in South Africa
South Africa has a detailed legal framework which includes laws and regulations governing the donation, recovery, use and further processing of human organs and tissue.
The National Health Act No. 61 of 2003, Chapter 8 stipulates how we may work with human tissue. Along with relevant regulations, it states that donation requires informed, written consent and that no one may be coerced directly or indirectly to donate tissue and no form of incentive may be used to influence a person’s decision to donate.
Copies of the law and regulations are available in the Info & Resources section or can be downloaded below.
A Good Global Citizen
In 2004, the World Health Assembly, which is the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), urged member states to take measures to protect the poor and vulnerable from transplant tourism and to address the wider problem of international trafficking of human organs and tissues.
After several working committees did development work on a declaration, the 2008 Istanbul summit was convened. More than 150 representatives of scientific and medical bodies from 78 countries around the world, including government officials, social scientists and ethicists drafted The Declaration of Istanbul. It was published and accepted on 5 July 2008.
South Africa, as a member state of the WHO supports and endorses The Declaration of Istanbul.
SATiBA Endorses The Declaration of Istanbul
The South African Tissue Bank Association (SATiBA) – and Vitanova as a SATiBA member – formally endorses and supports The Declaration of Istanbul and adheres to its principles for tissue donation:
- Governments should develop and implement ethically and clinically sound programs for the prevention and treatment of organ failure, consistent with meeting the overall healthcare needs of their populations.
- The optimal care of organ donors and transplant recipients should be a primary goal of transplant policies and programs.
- Trafficking in human organs and trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal should be prohibited and criminalized.
- Organ donation should be a financially neutral act.
- Each country or jurisdiction should develop and implement legislation and regulations to govern the recovery of organs from deceased and living donors and the practice of transplantation, consistent with international standards.
- Designated authorities in each jurisdiction should oversee and be accountable for organ donation, allocation, and transplantation practices to ensure standardization, traceability, transparency, quality, safety, fairness, and public trust.
- All residents of a country should have equitable access to donation and transplant services and to organs procured from deceased donors.
- Organs for transplantation should be equitably allocated within countries or jurisdictions, in conformity with objective, non-discriminatory, externally justified, and transparent rules, guided by clinical criteria and ethical norms.
- Health professionals and healthcare institutions should assist in preventing and addressing organ trafficking, trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal, and transplant tourism.
- Governments and health professionals should implement strategies to discourage and prevent the residents of their country from engaging in transplant tourism.
- Countries should strive to achieve self-sufficiency in organ donation and transplantation
The need for tissue exceeds the demand by far. Patients suffer debilitation and pain because we have a constant shortage of donors. Changing this, is a team effort.
We are proud of our association with other organ and tissue donation groups in South Africa who are working towards the same goal. And we appreciate the contribution our partners and service providers make to our effort.
The Organ Donor Foundation (ODF) promotes organ and tissue donation nationally and manages donor registration.
SATiBA is a non-profit organization supporting all South African tissue banks with regulatory and legal matters, data collection, training, accreditation, quality assurance, communication and collaboration.
The Eye Bank is a registered non-profit organisation that obtains and distributes eye tissue for transplant purposes.
The Homograft Valve Bank provides surgeons with cryopreserved aortic and pulmonary heart valve homografts used in the correction of congenital heart defects in paediatric and adult patients.
The Western Cape Forensic Pathology Service promotes Donor Referral for tissue donation.
Lancet Laboratories is one of the leading pathology laboratories operating throughout Africa and a partner in Vitanova’s Femoral Head Collection Programme.
Quality & Confidentiality
The Buck Stops With Us
Vitanova works to meet stringent quality standards and are ISO 9001 accredited and certified. ISO 9001 is an international set of criteria for the quality management system we follow.
The confidentiality of donors and recipients, and the integrity of donor and next of kin personal information, is very important to us. Our data practises are in line with the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 and other relevant laws and regulations.