14 children await gift of life at Johannesburg hospital as MEC appeals for organ donors

Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi. File image
Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi. File image

Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi on Wednesday disclosed that there are 182 patients awaiting organ transplants at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

Fourteen of these are children.

“These patients are ready for the transplant as soon as a matching organ becomes available,” she said.

The MEC, marking Kidney Awareness Week, said a majority of the patients on the organ transplant waiting list are those who require a kidney transplant.

The average waiting period for a transplant ranges between one and two years, depending on the organ required. Some patients wait up to five years as they have no living or nonliving related donor.

There is a shortage of available organs in South Africa due to low uptake of organ donation. Yet one person can save eight lives with a single organ donation, and up to 50 people can be saved with a tissue donation.

Organs that are urgently needed include heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas. Tissues needed urgently include corneas, skin and long bones, said Mokgethi.

“As a society we need to talk about organ donation. We can save many lives and remove people off dialysis when more people donate organs. We can give a gift of life not just to the recipients of the organ or tissue, but to the entire family. We can save breadwinners. Reduce single parent households,” she urged.

To donate an organ, one can register with the Organ Donation Foundation.