Jenna Lowe was a crusader, says her father

2015-06-09 14:16

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Tributes pour in after death of courageous organ donation campaigner (20)

2015-06-09 11:21

South Africa is mourning the death of 20 year old Jenna Lowe – a courageous campaigner for organ donations. Watch.WATCH

Johannesburg – Jenna Lowe made organ donorship her “crusade” after discovering how few organ donors there were in South Africa, her father said on Tuesday.

“She discovered how bad organ donorship in South Africa was and made it her crusade,” Stuart Lowe said.

“She’s inspired many, many people around the world. She was an incredibly bright, incredibly inspiring young woman.”

Jenna died on Monday, aged 20. In 2012, aged 17, she was diagnosed with a rare lung disease called Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, a degenerative, life-threatening condition, according to her website

Her “Get me to 21” campaign was intended to encourage people to sign up to become organ donors and help her find a new pair of lungs. She received a double lung transplant on December 10 2014.

'We will continue her legacy'

Lowe said the operation had been a success and that her death was related to other health matters. She would have celebrated her 21st birthday on October 28.

“It’s the beginning of her legacy and we will continue her legacy. That’s what Jenna’s wish was.”

Lowe said over 20 000 people had signed up to become organ donors as a result of Jenna’s campaign and he anticipated that another 20 000 would sign up following her death.

As if to prove his point, by 11:50 on Tuesday 4 922 people had signed up to become organ donors, according to a counter on her website, Forty minutes later this had increased to 4 950.

Her last blog entry on February 26 this year read: “Hello everyone I’m finally getting there…eating, breathing, even slowly walking. Very soon I’ll be able to leave this ward.”

Samantha Nicholls, executive director of the Organ Donor Foundation, said Jenna’s campaign had made a huge impact on the number of people who signed up as organ donors.

'Not enough people signed up as donors'

A total of 17 476 people registered to become organ donors between October last year and March this year due to Jenna’s campaign and the additional media coverage.

This was almost double the 9 599 people who signed up in 2012/13.

Nicholls said seeing the effect that waiting for an organ transplant had on one person was far more powerful than showing numbers and statistics.

“It’s definitely had an impact. When you see an individual waiting, that’s what got people motivated,” she said of Jenna’s campaign.

“There are definitely not enough people signed up as donors.”

'Many die waiting'

About 4 300 adults and children were currently waiting for organ and cornea transplants in South Africa. Less than 600 receive a transplant each year.

“Many die waiting,” she added.

“We want every single South African to consider becoming an organ donor.”

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a rare lung disease that causes the arteries and blood vessels in the lungs to narrow. This forces the heart to work harder to properly oxygenate the lungs, weakening it over time.

Signs and symptoms of pulmonary hypertension (PH) may include:

- Shortness of breath during routine activity, such as climbing two flights of stairs

- Tiredness

- Chest pain

- A racing heartbeat

- Pain on the upper right side of the abdomen

- Decreased appetite

- Family and friends of Jenna Lowe are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for her, on her profile at

Read more on:    jenna lowe  |  johannesburg  |  health

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