Director of Communications at the Organ Donor Foundation in South Africa, Jooste Vermeulen has raised alarm on the massive decline in organ donation in the country.
Vermeulen who was speaking during an interview with a radio station said that out of 50 million South Africans, only 80,000 are registered organ donors.
The director went ahead to urge South Africans to help dying fellow citizens by simply making a choice and saying: “I want to be an organ donor.” He also urged those who had made the promises to inform their families so that when they die, they can abide by the wishes.
A 65-year-old Evance Kalula who happens to be one of the few whose lives were saved through heart transplant five years ago, has equally encouraged citizens to be committed in the future of the country by donating their organs for those who would need them while they were gone.
Kalula said donating an organ is the best gift a human being can give another because people like him get a chance to live a better life with their loved ones through such gifts.
“I wouldn’t be alive; it is an incredible gift to give at a very critical time. I have been very lucky and my message would be please consider helping somebody else,” he said thanking his donors for the “greatest gift”.
The Organ Donor Foundation says there’s been a major drop in the number of heart transplants in the country over the years.
According to the Foundation, 41 heart transplants were conducted in 2000 but last year only 25 were conducted and currently, there are about 4,000 South Africans awaiting an urgent heart transplant.
A nine-year-old Captonian is on a waiting list for a new heart.
Jude van der Westhuizen who was diagnosed with an enlarged heart as a baby, pleaded with other parents to consider organ donation.
He was placed on a waiting list for a new heart when he went into cardiac failure last year.
Jude who said he loves fishing and watching Rugby, said he dreams of becoming a fisherman and enjoys spending time at sea with his grandfather.
The nine-year-old says that thinking about his condition often makes him nervous but that his only option is to wait until a perfect match for a new heart comes.
Jude’s mother Alicia van der Westhuizen is also pleading with parents to consider being organ donors.
“I know it’s hard for parents to think about donating their children’s organs to another child, but it gives parents like us hope,” she said.