Bone SA was registered in 1994 as a non-profit company. It works closely with the Tshwane University of Technology’s Centre for Tissue Engineering, whose primary task is to source donations of human tissue.
Bone and tissue donations are precious gifts that can be life changing for patients who are in dire need of human tissue due to injury or disease.
Prof Mariëtte Lowes, a consultant in teaching and learning, says since becoming part of Bone SA she has witnessed many heart-warming and uplifting success stories where donors have relieved the suffering and improved the quality of life of others.
Mariëtte, who was the Potchefstroom Campus’s vice-rector for teaching and learning from 2006 to the end of 2014, works part time in the office of Prof Martin Oosthuizen, the deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning in the Institutional Office.
She is also a member of the NWU’s steering committee for the transformation of teaching and learning and project leader for the HEQSF qualification alignment project. In addition, she manages the Teaching Development, nGap and Foundation Grants.
Mariëtte, who is also a qualified pharmacist, has served on Bone SA’s Board since 2006 and is currently the chairperson of the Board of Directors. She spends at least two days a week at Bone SA’s headquarters in Johannesburg.
Her work at Bone SA has clearly identified the need for increased research and development into ways to improve the effectiveness of procedures involving bone and tissue.
“Bone SA, together with the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Health Sciences on the Potchefstroom Campus, has applied for funding from the Department of Trade and Industry for a Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) project. We believe that this proposed three-year project is near approval.”
“The project entails the extrusion of powdered bone and tissue to create softer porous bone from larger human bones that are not in such regular demand as the smaller bones. ”
“This project offers a lot of possibilities to ensure that the precious human material that becomes available is not wasted.”
Other research projects that are now yielding results include the modification of human bone for orthopaedic surgery by, among others, mixing bone matter with collagen so that it can be more easily injected. This is especially important for facial applications where custom-fit bones and tissue are often needed.
Mariëtte says it is very important to create awareness about Bone SA and what it does. “We need donors; people must know that there is a need and that they can do something about it. Without donors, bone and skin cannot be made available to patients in need of it.”
Everyone is a potential donor although tissue is generally retrieved from people between 15 and 80 years old. When small children pass away, parents may choose to donate their corneas and heart valves.
“I am very proud of how Bone SA conducts its business.”
“The whole process is strongly ethically driven, based on the nature of the business and the product. Bone SA a non-profit company and thus functions on this basis.
Donors cannot sell human tissue. The product is however sold to patients to recover the cost of sourcing, manufacturing, marketing and distribution.
“It is a worthwhile cause that has a massive impact on the quality of life of many people. There is nothing more uplifting than hearing how people’s lives are changed by selfless donations of human tissue,” she concludes.
For more information about Bone SA, visit their website or phone
011 440 3888.
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Tissue includes cornea, bone and tendons, skin and heart valves. The donation of tissue is facilitated by a tissue bank.
It differs from organ donation, which can be donated by living donors, as these tissues are retrieved from donors after cardiac death, usually between 12 hours and five days after death. In the case of an unnatural death, the retrieval of tissue takes place after the completion of the post-mortem examination.
Here are some of the ways donated tissue is used: