Surgeon: Beliefs not a reason to not donate organs

2014-08-16 05:00

Johannesburg - Religious and cultural beliefs should not be used as a reason not to donate organs, a specialist and transplant surgeon said on Friday.

"Every religion teaches that if you can help someone you should," Dr Anna Sparaco said at the Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg.

She was part of a panel of medical experts, patients, and media at an Organ Donor Foundation briefing.
Sparaco said some religions did not permit members to donate their organs.

"We are engaging with the Council of Traditional Healers on the issue," she said.

"We want a marriage of traditional medicine with western medicine."

Transplant options

Sparaco said there were many public misconceptions about organ donations, but insisted that the dignity and respect of donors and patients was always upheld.

This was particularly the case with cadaveric transplants, where organs were donated from people whose brain had suffered irreversible damage.

Sparaco said even when people donated their organs when they were still living it would be "as simple as any other operation".

Organ donation was a very involved, well thought through process.

"There are transplant co-ordinators, who are usually intensive care unit (ICU) trained nurses, who manage the family of the patient, the donor and their families.

The co-ordinators also educated hospitals and made them aware that transplants were an option.

"There is also a multi-disciplinary team involved in the entire process," said Sparaco.

4 300 awaiting transplants in SA

This included surgeons, dieticians, and psychologists, among others.

The foundation's executive director Samantha Volschenk also stressed the need for organ donations because of the critical shortage of donors in South Africa.

"Many, many people die waiting for a transplant," Volschenk said.

"There are currently 4 300 adults and children awaiting transplants, with less than 600 transplants being performed a year," said Volschenk.

Kidneys were most in demand, while other organs in demand included livers, hearts, and lungs.

Volschenk said organ donation in the country remained stagnant, despite growing awareness on social media networks.

"In the last 24 months there has been an 80 to 90% growth in our social media and internet campaigns," said Volschenk.

Awareness campaigns

The foundation also had a toll-free hotline, website, and information brochure they distributed at awareness campaigns.

The foundation was not directly involved in medical procedures and processes, but focused on awareness of the shortage of organ donors.

"We are involved in all types of awareness campaigns relating to organ transplant including media interviews, talks at schools and seminars," said Volschenk.

Volschenk said the foundation lacked resources and skills needed to execute their campaigns as they were a non-governmental organisation.

"We lack the resources to convert potential donors to actual donors," she said.

She also appealed to the public to donate funds or their time at awareness campaigns.

  • Zilindile Gagule - 2014-08-16 05:45

    Jacob Zuma must by example,he must start to donate the organs to those who need it then the rest will follow.Oh what a joke Jacob Zuma cann,t do that because of his status will be known after all.Showerman did take so many tisks about his life.

      Enig Ma - 2014-08-16 06:28

      Perhaps zoooomer can donate his brain! But is it big enough to find? Hell does he even have a brain? Does a butternut have a brain? If he does have brain, who would want it? I am not vollunteering. Is Juju an organ donor? Wonder if Juju's stupidity is contagious, meaning , if his lheart is transplanted into a human, will this human's brain be affected. Will this human grow a tail, start swinging from trees, commit tax fraud, and talk a loot of bullsha1t? Science is a cruel mistress indeed!

      nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-16 08:11

      Donating one's organs is an ultimate act of humanity, u don't do it cos others are doing it or for recognition or self gain. U do it cos u r u! Don't hide behind what others r/r'nt doing...,unless it's not important to u

  • Dave Bloy - 2014-08-16 05:45

    Why should I donate organs if people are allowed to jump the queue.

      Werner Lotz - 2014-08-16 07:46


      Sue Richardson Byron-Moore - 2014-08-16 08:25

      Dave, Manto may have done exactly that - twice - but that doesn't mean my son should die because there are no lungs from donors for the double lung transplant he needs. And no, not self-inflicted like Manto, but due to cystic fibrosis. There is no cure.Only a double lung transplant will prolong his life.Awareness about organ donation is vital and literally life-saving.

  • Tavengwa Chivirira Muchini - 2014-08-16 05:48

    One big problem i saw in SA is 'poor awareness raising and information dissemination'The tools that you use to reach people of all races and ciass.The majority are black africans and please do physical community outreach...even it means road shows...go down touch the people and let them touch you back!

  • Arthur Harding - 2014-08-16 06:05

    IT baffles me you cant donate or get organs but its fine if organs are used for muti????????????????????

      Qhama Keke - 2014-08-16 07:06

      people dont offer/donate their organs for muthi, on the contrary are killed for it... But yeh, regardless of my religious afiliation im pro the donation of organs

      nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-16 08:13

      Are people who's parts get ripped off them wiling body parts donors....the two aren't related!!

  • Guy Stocker - 2014-08-16 06:27

    Must be remarkable surgeon to have studied all the religions and know each ones views.

      Rudi Van Der Bank - 2014-08-16 07:05

      Where you born a idiot or did you learn it as you grew up?

  • Anthoula Joshua - 2014-08-16 06:57

    We have so many people who die each year on our roads for instance. If you feel that it was senseless, then why not make some sense from it by donating your organs. If you cannot be saved, then why not save another life. Even your skin can sometimes be used, or you can help someone retain their eye sight. The ultimate gift. I have it in my will, but will sign up today.

  • Willem Cecchi - 2014-08-16 06:57

    South Africa must change legislation to have citizens opt out of organ donation rather than opt in, like some European countries currently.

      Raymond Van Den Brink - 2014-08-16 07:20

      This will not work. If you have not made a choice while still alive then nobody can take your organs.

      anke.engelke.35 - 2014-08-16 13:35

      @Raymond: in this case your next of kin will decide.

  • Lara van Rooyen - 2014-08-16 07:35

    If your body is destroyed with all its organs during an intense fire(NOT that horrible thing called cremation) do you go to hell?

      Werner Lotz - 2014-08-16 07:51

      Your comment gives away the fact that you're already in hell Lara.

      Lara van Rooyen - 2014-08-16 07:55

      Haha, Werner. Tongue deep in cheek

      Lara van Rooyen - 2014-08-16 07:57

      If you donate organs and get cremated you go to hell, according to some. If you lose them in other 'unnatural' ways, then surely you must go there as well, even though you didn't sign up for it?

      nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-16 08:15

      Body or soul?

  • Werner Lotz - 2014-08-16 07:49

    "4 300 awaiting transplants in SA - This included surgeons, dieticians, and psychologists, among others." What a bizarre comment...why include dieticians?!

      sean.wasserman.3 - 2014-08-16 07:58

      I read it the same way you did the first time round. "4300 awaiting donations" is a heading, "this included surgeons ..." is a continuation if the previous paragraph that discusses the multidisciplinary team.

  • Riaan Roux - 2014-08-16 07:53

    I used to be a huge supporter. I decided against it when Zuma got her transplant. She was so clearly an alchoholic and a none qualifier. The ANC made it purely political. I still donate blood though.

      Lara van Rooyen - 2014-08-16 08:05

      So, how often does this happen? Poor excuse. There are many, many people who get an extended lease on life due to transplants. I'm a donor, but sadly I now have cancer and seriously doubt if anyone wants something from me for free. Maybe you shouldn't politicize the issue? Donate your lenses, maybe it will help them see better. :)

      nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-16 08:16

      Revisit your personal values!

  • Kirsty Prinsloo - 2014-08-16 08:21

    But the organ donation process is also flawed...they send you two little stickers to put on your id book and drivers licence....that's all that's supposed to identity you as an organ donor.

  • Maswahla Kgao James Molepo - 2014-08-16 11:35

    sharing is caring so says pastors nd bishops....i dont C any reason y should we not donate

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