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'Donating organ is best gift human being can give another'

Evance Kalula underwent a heart transplant almost five years ago. He has urged South Africans to register as organ and tissue donors.

Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - A 65-year-old heart recipient says donating an organ is the best gift a human being can give another.

Evance Kalula underwent a heart transplant almost five years ago.

The University of Cape Town law professor has urged South Africans to register as organ and tissue donors, following a 40% drop in the number of heart transplants.

The issue has been highlighted on the birthdate of the late Professor Christiaan Barnard who performed the world's first heart transplant on the 3 December 1967.

Kalula says his donated heart has afforded him more time to spend with his wife and four children.

He calls it the greatest gift he's received from a complete stranger.

His heart failed on the 12 December 2012. And because it was an emergency, he received a transplant only a week later once a donor had been found.

“I wouldn’t be alive; it is an incredible gift to give at a very critical time. I have been very lucky and my message would be please consider helping somebody else.”

The identity of Kalula's donor is protected by confidentiality, but he knows he received a woman's heart.

The Organ Donor Foundation says in 2000, 41 heart transplants were conducted.

Last year there were just 25.

There are currently about 4,000 South Africans on waiting lists.