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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


ETHEREDGE, H R; TURNER, R E  and  KAHN, D. Attitudes to organ donation among some urban South African populations remain unchanged: A cross-sectional study (1993 - 2013). SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2014, vol.104, n.2, pp.133-137. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND: A 1993 paper in the SAMJ suggested that public attitudes to organ donation in South Africa were positive. However, statistics reveal a decline in the annual number of transplants in this country. OBJECTIVE: To repeat the 1993 survey as far as possible and determine whether public attitudes to organ donation in some South African populations have changed over the past 20 years. METHODS: The 1993 study was replicated in 2012 to generate a current data set. This was compared with the raw data from the 1993 study, and an analysis of percentages was used to determine variations. RESULTS: Generally attitudes to organ donation have not changed since 1993, remaining positive among the study population. However, individuals are significantly more hesitant to consider donating the organs of a relative without being aware of that person's donation preference. Individuals in the black African study population are currently more willing to donate kidneys than in 1993 (66% v. 81%; p<0.0001), but less willing to donate a heart (64% v. 38%; p<0.0001), a liver (40% v. 34%; p<0.036) and corneas (22% v. 15%, p<0.0059). CONCLUSIONS: Publicity campaigns aimed at raising awareness of organ donation should emphasise the importance of sharing donation preferences with one's family in order to mitigate discomfort about making a decision on behalf of another. These campaigns should be culturally and linguistically sensitive. The study should be repeated in all populations over time to continually gauge attitudes.

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