Organ and Tissue Facts


Organ and Tissue Facts


● Laughing is good for your heart, it reduces stress and gives a boost to your immune system.
● The iconic heart shape as a symbol of love is traditionally thought to come from the silphium plant, which was used as an ancient form of birth control.
● Your heartbeat changes and mimics the music you listen to.

Heart disease in South Africa
● Most heart attacks happen on a Monday.
● Heart disease and strokes are South Africa’s biggest killer after HIV/Aids.
● 1 in 3 South Africans 15 years and older have high blood pressure and more than 50% of
people with high blood pressure are unaware of their condition.

Heart Transplants in South Africa
● Only Groote Schuur Hospital in the Western Cape does adult heart and lung transplants for
the state and private patients in South Africa.

Benefits of a heart transplant include:
● a heart transplant can add 12 years of good quality of life to a patient.


● 200 litres of fluid are filtered by your kidneys (2.5 bathtubs full) and excrete 1-2 litre of waste
in a 24 hour period.

Kidney disease in South Africa
● 10% of all people in the world have some form of kidney disease.
● 15% of South Africans are affected.
● 20 000 new patients are diagnosed every year in South Africa.
● Two leading causes of Chronic Kidney Disease: diabetes and high blood pressure.
● South Africa has one of the highest rates of end stage kidney failure in the world.

Kidney Transplants in South Africa
● SA is one of 12 African countries that perform renal transplantation, and it is the only country in Africa that relies on deceased donation for the majority of its transplants.
● A kidney is the most frequently donated organ from a living donor.
● First kidney transplant in SA took place in 1966, a year before the first heart transplant.
● First dialysis in South Africa was done by a general practitioner that built his own dialysis
machine in 1957.
● Overall 10-year increase in life expectancy of a kidney recipient compared to individuals on
the waiting list.

Benefits of a kidney transplant include:
● significant improvement in physical functioning
● mental health
● social functioning
● overall perception of quality of life following a transplant.

Source: and “Organ Donation from death to life” Dr David Thomson


● The liver is the largest glandular organ of the human body and the second largest organ besides our skin.
● The liver consists of 96% of water.
● The liver can regenerate itself. Even if only 25% of it is still healthy it can regenerate itself into a full liver again

Liver disease in South Africa
● It contains fat – 10% of our liver is made up of fat. If the fat content in the liver goes above
10% it is considered a “fatty liver” and makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Liver Transplants in South Africa
● When a donor passes away, the liver can be split between two recipients, usually an adult
and a child.
● The liver is allocated according to a MELD score of the patient.

Benefits of a liver transplant include:
● Overall 16-year increase in life expectancy of a liver recipient.

Source: Flushing Hospital Medical Centre


● The only organs in the body that can float when filled up with air.
● Your lungs aren’t the same size, the left lung is smaller than the right lung to make space for your heart!
● You can live with only one lung and many people do.

Lung disease in South Africa
● The lung, perhaps more than any other organ system is influenced by poverty, occupation and personal habits.
● Some of the most common chronic lung diseases are Asthma, COPD, Emphysema, Cystic Fibrosis, Chronic Bronchitis and Lung Cancer.
● South Africa faces a chronic respiratory disease burden which includes a mix of infectious (TB and HIV co-infection) and non-infectious diseases, such as Emphysema and COPD.
● A recent population study suggested a very high prevalence of COPD in the country.

Lung Transplants in South Africa
● Successful Lung Transplantation is one of the more challenging areas in the field of transplantation.
● This is largely due to the complexity and length of the operation, the fact that most of the huge surface area of the lung is separated from the environment by a mere layer of cells a few microns thick and the fact that the lung with its associated lymph nodes and specialised alveolar macrophage system is one of the body’s largest immune organs capable of eliciting a brisk and robust immune response to antigen challenge.
● Lung transplantation roughly took off in SA in 2000 in Johannesburg.
● Groote Schuur in Cape Town is the only centre that provides the option of lung transplant to
state and private patients.

Benefits of a lung transplant include:
● Lung transplantation is a robust therapy for advanced lung disease, which offers
recipients extended and good-quality survival.


● Pancreas means “all flesh” in Greek.
● The pancreas can digest itself.
● The pancreas can “taste” sugar.

Pancreas disease in South Africa
● One’s pancreas can be damaged if the digestive enzymes start to work before the pancreas releases these enzymes
● The most common pancreas diseases in South Africa are diabetes, pancreatitis and
pancreatic cancer

Pancreas Transplants in South Africa

Benefits of a pancreas transplant include:
● a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant can add 10 live years to a recipient.


● The smallest tendon is located in the inner ear, attaching to the smallest muscle in the body.

● The cornea is the only part of the body with no blood supply. It gets its oxygen directly from
the air.
● The cornea is the transparent front layer of the eye. South Africa has a severe shortage of cornea donors and it is estimated that 20 000 South African’s sight can be restored with a cornea transplant. Corneas from all ages are accepted and are removed from the deceased without causing any disfigurement.


● Bone is the second most commonly used donated tissue, second only to blood transfusions,
and the need for bone tissue increases year on year.

How to thank the donor family

At TELL we believe that with the proper amount of thoughtfulness and sincerity, a heartfelt thank you can be written, no matter how simple. It should almost not be considered a choice to write or not to write. It should just be a matter of time until you are ready to put your thoughts onto paper.