Letter heart transplant organ donation

The documentary is an emotional rollercoaster ride of highs, celebrating life, and then deep troughs of despondency as South Africans are kept waiting… waiting for life-saving organs!


Johannesburg, South Africa – SABC Education is proud to launch 1000 Lives; an original medical docu-drama series premised around organ donation and transplantation, which is often the patient’s only hope for survival.

Compassionate with a tone of sensitivity, each episode tells a story of a patient who lives with a dysfunctional organ but hopes for the gift of life from an organ donor that will let them live fully again. It further explores illnesses caused by dysfunctional organs – the heart, lung, kidney and retina. The series features South Africa’s world-class heart specialists, surgeons and researchers, and the patients whose lives they aim to save.

Only one in ten South Africans will receive an organ; however, there are over 4000 people on the waiting lists currently, and the match has to be perfect to proceed. The wait for a viable organ can take a week or even years.

“One of our key focus areas is health, and 1000 Lives is a high-quality project that assists in the delivery of compelling content for television audiences,” said Danie Swart, Head of SABC Education.

The series is produced by Impilo Life’s award-winning producer and director team Pieter de Vos and Jan Groenewald. Producer, Pieter de Vos, says “the production is an emotional rollercoaster ride of highs, celebrating life, and then deep troughs of despondency as our participants are kept waiting… waiting for life-saving organs. A cerebral response becomes so difficult to maintain – yet so essential to stay on top of production demands.” 

In South Africa, there are thousands of people on the waiting list for life-saving organs. They rely on the generosity of people to decide to donate their organs once they have died. Up until the point of brain stem death, the ONLY priority is to save the patient’s life. The donor is treated with the utmost of respect, and the procurement of organs is treated like any other surgery.

The reality is that there are just too few organ donors to address this need, and consequently, many patients will not receive their organ transplant in time.

Jan Groenewald adds, “The opportunity to direct 1000 Lives is a life-changing journey. Every morning is a birth. It opens a window onto an amazing day of celebrations of life, even as one loses it. Even death now makes perfect sense as I hear music from a far distance, from the heart of the universe, honouring the bravery of organ recipients and the generosity of donors.”

The series encourages organ donation as life gives life. Catch 1000 Lives on SABC2, starting 25th May at 18:00 or watch the first episode below:

In South Africa currently, the only legally-binding way in which to donate your organs and tissue at the time of your death is for your next-of-kin to give their consent for your organs and tissue to be donated. This is the case even if you have registered to be an organ and tissue donor or have written your wishes in a will. It is therefore essential to let your family know of your wishes to be an organ and tissue donor.

Life is the best gift you can give. It’s why TELL (Transplant Education for Living Legacies) helps educate South Africans about organ and tissue donation. TELL was created with heart, for hearts (and other organs).

Their main task is to educate the public about organ and tissue donation through various projects and the purpose of this is to “TELL YOUR TRIBE” about your wishes to become an organ and tissue donor. Their secondary outcome is to educate health care professionals around the referral process of potential donors, the more South Africans on the list, the less South Africans have to wait!

“We have a holistic approach to ending the waiting list and, with your help, we are confident we can make a difference.” 

Check out their Facebook and Twitter to get all their info!

Sources: TELL | SABC 
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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