South Africa needs more organ and tissue donors. How do we achieve this?
For stories like Thyneeca Adonis’ to have happy endings, they need to start with community.
Every patient who needs an organ or tissue transplant has a story.
Thyneeca Adonis, a teenager from Lotus Rivier, was diagnosed with an eye condition called keratoconus in 2021. Keratoconus causes the cornea of the eye to thin, and gradually grow outwards into a cone shape. The altered shape of the cornea creates blurred vision and eventually leads to blindness, which can only be reversed by a cornea transplant.
A world without sight is the reality that 13-year old Thyneeca is facing, if a donor cornea is not available at the time she needs transplant surgery.
And this is where a community – and everyone of us – can make a difference. Lester Kiewiet from CapeTalk shared Thyneeca and her family’s story. The support and interest from the community and local businesses was overwhelming and resulted in financial support and a cornea pledge from Vitanova, a tissue bank that promotes organ and tissue donor awareness. Sandra Venter, Awareness and Recovery Manager for Vitanova commented how communities can help save lives by sharing information about organ and tissue donation, and registering as donors.
At any given time, there are around 4,300 patients listed on waiting lists for various organ or tissue transplants.
Sadly, less than 3% of the 59.3 million people In South Africa are registered organ and tissue donors. This is where the need for donor registration arises – every patient on the growing organ and tissue donation waiting list can only undergo their surgery with the help of their community.
So, what does it actually mean to be registered as a potential organ and tissue donor?
The process starts by completing the quick registration form on the Vitanova website (www.vitanova.org.za). The process is quick and simple, and you will receive a follow-up call from the Organ Donor Foundation to complete the registration and ensure you receive a registration pack containing an organ and tissue donor card.
Most importantly, after registering, we recommend that you have a discussion with your family and loved ones, so that at the time of your death, they are clear about your wish to donate organs and tissue. This will help make the decision easy for them when they are approached about donation.
Be an Everyday Hero
Many people feel that registering as an organ donor is a way to have your life be honoured, as you are giving new life to people. As we shared in our last blog post, one donor can save or improve the lives of up to 65 people – and that is the essence of what being a registered donor means.