South African organ donor hero Jenna Lowe passed away yesterday, Monday the 8th of June, just four months shy of her 21st birthday that she so desperately wanted to make.
Diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension three years ago, Jenna tirelessly worked her way into the South African spotlight with her campaign #GetMeTo21. Through the campaign she raised awareness for organ donation by appealing for a new set of lungs that she desperately needed to survive until her 21st birthday. The campaign encouraged South Africans to register as organ donors in order to receive an invite to Jenna's 21st - a party that was not only for Jenna but also for 4000 other South Africans waiting for organs. Watch her viral campaign video here.
Jenna was widely acknowledged for her efforts in raising awareness for organ donation. In 2014, she was awarded the Lead SA Youth Hero Award and was also visited and thanked in person by Helen Zille, the Independent Online reports.
Towards the end of 2014, Jenna was matched with a pair of lungs and underwent a lung transplant in December, Times Live reports. She spent over five months in hospital after the transplant and suffered a number of serious complications. Last month her mother, Gabi Lowe, posted the following update on Jenna's Facebook group:
Jenna's family played a pivotal role in the campaign, giving talks and raising awareness when Jenna was too unwell to leave their home. Her family set up the Jenna Lowe Foundation in her name to raise awareness of the condition and to assist other patients in getting earlier diagnoses and treatment. Learn more about the foundation's work by watching the video below:
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
- Chest pain
- A racing heartbeat
- Pain on the upper right side of the abdomen
- Decreased appetite
Registering as an organ donor
Currently there are over 4000 South African adults and children waiting for organs. Through the initiative Save 7 Lives, you can register as an organ donor in South Africa. The idea behind Save 7 Lives is that each donor is able to give one heart, two lungs, one liver, two kidneys and one pancreas and therefore can potentially save the lives of 7 other people.
Registering is easy. Simply click this link and fill in the form.