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On Tuesday night, a New Organ and Tissue Donation NPO, Tell, launched in Johannesburg.

Various physicians, surgeons, professors, key stakeholders in the field, transplant patients , as well as media attended the Tell launch on Tuesday night (16th of October 2018) Guests were greeted at a registration table where a delicious welcome drink was served as they were lead through to the most beautiful venue overlooking breathtaking views of the city. The food (proudly sponsored by Pippa’s Food) was exquisite and everyone felt right at home as they chatted to old colleagues as well as forming new relationships. At around 18.30, Alice Vogt, Managing Director of Tell, welcomed everyone and presented a video introduction to the new brand.  Murmur is Tell’s branding agency that has developed and conceptualized the entire Tell brand, pro-bono. Watch the video HERE After the presentation, Bonnie Venter, Director Of Legal Affairs for Tell, identified obstacles contributing to the acute shortage of organ availability in the country and possible solutions which TELL hopes to provide in time. These were as follows: Obstacle 1: The first obstacle we face is, as a potential organ and tissue donor you can express your wishes to donate your organs by registering as a donor and possessing a donor card. However, when the time comes, your family will be approached to consent to the donation of your life-saving organs. Basically, a donor’s family has the final say and may veto the donor’s wish. If a donor’s family is not aware of his or hers wishes, then an opportunity is lost to save lives. Solution: TELL aims to overcome the consent obstacle with our public awareness initiative of #TellYourTribe. We want to encourage potential donors to start the conversation with their family. Our hope is that when the time comes this initiative will make it easier for families to decide to donate their loved one’s organs. Obstacle 2: The next obstacle we face is the timely identification and referral of possible organ donors. In South Africa it is not common practice to refer; referral is usually dependent on the hospital staff’s attitude and awareness towards organ donation, their workload and the availability of resources and time. Solution: In this regard TELL aims to implement a hospital education initiative which will be known as #TellYourTeam to improve the current referral rate. Part of this initiative is to collaborate with hospital groups and transplant co-coordinators to drive this movement to become a common practice. Our long-term goal is to petition the government to support and adopt a policy of mandatory routine referrals. Obstacle 3: South Africa has no national transplant waiting list and in general lacks accurate statistics on organ and tissue donation. Solution: The solution here is more complex but TELL would like to collaborate on a national scale with both the private and public sector to establish a national transplant waiting list as well as instill a culture of accurate and consist record keeping for statistical purposes. Obstacle 4: In general there is a lack of a support infrastructure in the environment for both organ recipients and donor families. Solution: To provide support we have created two separate platforms: 1) A Facebook support group to connect the community for pre and post-transplant recipients to interact and share their experiences. 2) A Facebook support group where donor families can turn to each other for emotional support through the sharing of their personal journeys. The common thread with all of our proposed solutions is to break the silo mentality in the field and push for a holistic approach to save the lives of those waiting for organs or tissues. After Bonnie, the first speaker Critical Care Physician Dr PG Williams was introduced. He spoke about the heroes he has been exposed to in his lifetime, everyone from Neil Armstrong to Nelson Mandela. He ended by saying that organ donors as well as recipients are also heroes and that he is delighted that organizations like Tell are around to help spread organ donation awareness. 

The next speaker was nephrologist and son of a kidney recipient Dr S Wadee. Dr Wadee highlighted the dire need for organ donation awareness to combat the shortage of doors in South Africa. He mentioned how important advocacy and education around organ donation is, as well as better ICU and emergency care medical professional support is. Both speakers are leaders in their field of expertise and share a passion for organ donation with Tell. They spoke exceptionally well and the room was captivated by the insights they shared. Fawn Rogers, Marketing Director of Tell, thanked everyone that assisted with their launch and called up their sponsors and partners as follows: 1. Phillipa Savadier from Pippa’s Food for catering. 2. Daniella Cochrane from Pink Vanilla for assisting with the details and ongoing support. 3. Kevin from Standing Ovations Entertainment who entertained guests upon arrival. 4. The venue for generously hosting the event. (Guests and Media please note that the venue does not want to be mentioned by name as the hall is not for public use) 5. Murmur, Tell’s branding agency for bringing the directors vision to life.

Lastly, the directors of Tell spoke about why they are personally involved in the organ donation cause:

Fawn Rogers, Marketing Director of Tell, was born with Cystic Fibrosis and grew up very ill, in and out of hospitals her whole life. That is, until she received a double lung transplant in 2013. Her personal journey encouraged her to give back, through raising awareness for organ donation.

Bonnie Venter’s interest in organ donation started when she was a law student and became immediately captivated by the gaps in the legislation and controversies surrounding the topic such as payment of the living donor and xenotransplants. She went on to complete her Masters on organ donation and has been a passionate advocate ever since.

Alice Vogt is also a Cystic Fibrosis sufferer and is the first South Africa to successfully undergo 2 successful bi-lateral lung transplants. She is has participated in the World Transplant Games and has provisionally qualified for next year’s World Transplant Games in Newcastle, England, where she hopes to represent Tell.

In closing, the launch was a huge success and Tell hopes that the relationships made will be long-lasting and assist us in our mission to end the transplant waiting list. Follow the link to view their Facebook album photos of the event – As a final note, the projects that Tell have lined up require funding and whilst they are focused on keeping the conversation around organ and tissue donation fun, the reality is they need sponsors to make these projects happen. Should you wish to get involved with assisting, please get in touch. Alternatively you can make a direct donation using the banking details below: Account Holder: Tell Bank: FNB Branch Code: 250 655 Account Number: 62300464659 Reference: Tell Donation: NAME Please do not hesitate to contact them directly should you require anything else. Follow them on social media: Facebook – @tellorgza Instagram – @tellorgza Twitter – @tellorgza

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