The establishment of an independent organisation is urgently needed to coordinate the organ donation process and reverse the decline in the number of transplants in South Africa.
This is, according to Graham Anderson, CEO and Principal Officer at Profmed, who says that the number of kidney transplants carried out in South Africa has dropped from about 750 in 1997 to under 350 in 2015.
“The decline in organ transplants is not only as a result of a shortage of organ donors,” says Anderson, “but also a lack of coordination between donor organs and recipients.”
“This highlights the urgent need for the establishment of a single, independent and non-profit organisation that can facilitate and increase ethical, all-inclusive organ procurement and transplantation in South Africa,” Anderson says.
The Organ Donor Foundation creates awareness around the subject of organ donation and exists to register individuals as possible organ donors. However, it is not a medical organisation and therefore, not involved in the allocation or procurement of organs or any medical processes involved in transplantation.
Anderson says the organisation that should be established must maintain and coordinate a list of potential recipients throughout the country, in both public and private health sectors, to ensure donated organs find their way to the most deserving, compatible recipients.
Anderson says there are many hospitals, for example in outlying areas, which are not affiliated to a transplant centre.
“These hospitals may not know where to refer potential donors, or have the capacity to identify and manage potential donors. Establishing a single, independent organisation to manage organ donation, which is not associated with any hospital or private healthcare group, could go a long way in ensuring that the process is equitable to all and that strict protocols are adhered to.”
Anderson says that the establishment, and ultimately operation, of the organisation must be completely transparent so that no individual person or company benefits unduly. This will also help build public trust in the organisation.
He concludes, “This single, independent organisation could ensure that organ donation follows a systemic process and that all individuals, regardless of income or location, have equal access to vital organs as might be required.”