It’s a call supported by the Organ Donor Foundation who say the number of transplants was not growing despite a “huge increase” in registered donors.
“Support from government in the line of financial and human resources to do increased organ referral awareness to medical professionals could have an immediate and last lasting effect‚” said the foundation's Samantha Nicholls.
But doctors do not want to be forced to contact transplant coordinators.
South African Medical Association chairperson Dr Mzukisi Grootboom said if there was a general acceptance of organ donation‚ there would be no need to force doctors.
“Before we compel we have to sensitise the doctor on what are the requirements in the institution and according to the law in the country.
“The current problem is that the South African population have not bought into the idea that organ donation should be one of the considerations made during end of life discussions. There is no general acceptance that people should do. What you need to do before you force people is to educate‚” he said.
He said the recommendation was “jumping the gun” as there was no coordination or publicity of transplant facilities.
There are currently only 20 transplant coordinators to cover the entire country.
Wits Donald Medical Centre's transplant coordinator Kim Crymble said organ donation was not embraced as a “usual” practice in medicine in Johannesburg‚ where she covers all hospitals. She said many people didn't realise that beyond the sadness and tragedy of a life lost‚ there was hope and a legacy of life for many others.
Crymble said while many health professionals were not open to organ donation‚ her research published in the South African Medical Journal last month found that South African nurses would support and follow a mandatory referral policy.
Heart transplant recipient Shalendra Sing said mandatory referrals would give hope to those waiting for an organ.
“I used to have terrible days waiting for the heart. At times I would call the transplant co-ordinator just to say hi and to make sure they have not forgotten about me.”