If you think back to your childhood, I’m sure you can remember an occasion or two when you pretended to be a superhero. I clearly remember pulling on a pair of leggings and a tight T- shirt, putting my underwear on top of my clothes (why superheroes do that I still don’t understand) and tying a makeshift cape around my neck – usually my mom’s bright pink silk pashmina (much to her horror!)
I would then spend hours looking for something to save. More often than not I would end up creating a drama so I could swoop in and save the day. One such day was when I decided to set my poor cat adrift in our blow-up boat in the swimming pool. She played along beautifully and started meowing with fright as soon as she was sent on her way. I fluffed out my cape, swooped off the patio step and dived into the pool to her rescue. I was very proud of the scratches and scrapes I suffered while she was clawing her way to safety. After all, superheroes do get a few bruises in the line of duty. I wasn’t very proud, however, of the punishment I got when my mom heard what I had done to the poor cat.
The wonderful thing about human beings is that most of us never outgrow the willingness to help, serve and save those in need. Believe it or not, there is far more good in the world than bad! It’s just that the bad news travels so far and so fast while the good news is quieter and more humble. People don’t shout from the rooftops every time they do something nice, so most of the time we have no idea of all the wonderful things happening around us. I’m sure many of you reading this article wouldn’t hesitate to help another person in need and many of us still have childhood fantasies of being somebody’s superhero.
The reality is that you can be a superhero! You alone can save up to seven lives and can help a further 50 people just by becoming an organ donor. I know most of you are thinking “What? Am I reading the right magazine? Why are they talking about something as serious as organ donation in a teen magazine?” The answer is yes – you are reading the right magazine and the youth is just the group of people who could make all the difference.
South Africa has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world. Right now there are 4,300 people awaiting organs with a mere 600 people receiving organ transplants each year. Only 0.2% of the South African population are registered as organ donors, which means that many, many sick people end up paying the ultimate price as they never find a donor match.
More about organ donation
The truth is, many people’s lives depend on us thinking about and talking about organ donation, so let’s take a closer look at some frequently asked questions.
What is organ donation?
Organ donation is surgically removing healthy organs or tissues from one person and placing it into another. Some organs can be donated by a living donor (for example a kidney). More often than not this is done by a family member. Other organs can only be donated once the donor is living on life support and has no more brain function, confirmed by at least two independent medical doctors.
One donor can save up to seven lives by donating one heart, two kidneys, one liver, two lungs and one pancreas. You can help 50 other people by donating corneas, skin, bones and tissue such as heart valves. Now if that’s not being a superhero, then what is?
Who can become a donor?
Anyone can become a donor regardless of their age, colour, sex, culture or race as long as they are healthy and don’t suffer from a chronic illness. If you are younger than 16 years of age, you do need your parents’ approval.
What does it cost?
It costs nothing to register as an organ donor and if your organs are donated at any time in the future, the medical costs are covered by the hospital or the government.
Can I choose which organs I want to donate?
Yes, you can choose whether to donate particular organs or all of your organs. You simply need to inform your parents or next of kin of your wishes.
Can I change my mind?
Yes, you can change your mind at any time. You simply inform your parents or next of kin as they have the final say regarding what happens with your body.
How do I register to become an organ donor?
Registering is as simple as 1, 2, 3. If you are younger than 16 years old, please remember to get permission from your parents before registering. Log on to www.getmeto21.com. Click on the ‘Join my party’ link at the bottom of the page. Fill in your details. Click submit. Speak to your parents or next of kin so they are aware of your wishes.
By: Tracy-Leigh Kinsey