HI! I'M BONNIE
You have stumbled upon The Patient Project.
Deep down I'm hoping that you were not expecting an older bloke wearing a peruke, clutching a leather bounded legal volume, spouting out incomprehensible legal jargon. Strangely enough, I’m the complete opposite of the traditional legal professional described above.
In short, I am an avid organ transplantation activist, passionate medical legal educator and secret admirer of unicorns.
If we have to focus on the specifics for a moment, my career took the following path:
| Law student
| Lecturer (University of South Africa and Pearson Institute of Higher Education)
| Admitted Advocate of the High Court
| Senior lecturer in private higher education
| Unit head of Health Law at the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics within the Health Sciences Faculty at the University of Witwatersrand.
Why did I start the Patient Project?
While treading down my career path I’ve engaged in thought provoking conversations about medical law with people from all walks of life. I’ve heard different views on organ donation, termination of pregnancies, euthanasia and other related topics. These conversations have contributed to shaping, developing and changing my own views. But what has consistently stood out for me is the fact that the general public is faced with countless barriers when they decide to access medical law information. Accurate and reliable information is a rare and elusive creature. In most cases properly understanding the available content requires prior legal or medical knowledge. The situation is further exacerbated by the significant role medical ethics plays in this context.
My vision with The Patient Project is not only to improve the accessibility and availability of medical law information, but, also to invoke awareness and discussion within the greater community, educating South Africans about issues surrounding medical law, organ transplants and patient advocacy.
The Patient Project will provide insight into the relationship between the law, the health care professional and the patient. A range of diverse areas will be covered, such as: consent, confidentiality, medical negligence, paediatric health care, reproductive healthcare and end of life issues. A specific focus will be placed on organ transplantation ethics and law, a topic which I am immensely passionate about.
Medical law is often misconstrued as a tool which can only be used to assist and protect health care professionals. The Patient Project wants to abolish this view and instead highlight that medical law can simultaneously be used to promote and protect the interests of patients.
This doesn’t mean that The Patient Project can’t be used as an informative resource for health care students and professionals. Due to my involvement in the training of health care students and professionals I have developed a broad, practical understanding of the heath care environment. By means of the Patient Project I will utilise this knowledge to provide reliable medical law information which can be applied in the workplace.
What piqued my interest in organ donation and transplantation?
Let me start by mentioning that neither myself nor any of my loved ones have required an organ transplant. My interest in organ donation was sparked when I was an undergraduate student. I was immediately captivated by the lack of legal certainty surrounding organ and tissue donation and the controversies such as financial compensation and xenotransplantation. My interest was further fuelled by the fact that it was the first time I perceived the Law as an instrument which could help society in a positive manner. By the time you reach your final year of law, you tend to become cynical and view the law merely as a tool to draft a water-tight ante-nuptial contract. I continued to improve my knowledge of organ donation by completing an LL.M and writing peer-reviewed papers focusing on legal shortcomings, comparative legal frameworks, routine referral as a proposed solution and paediatric access to renal dialysis.
I volunteered in the public and private health care sector to gain an all-encompassing understanding of organ transplantation. Here, I was privileged enough to experience how pre-transplanted children evolved from lethargic, ill, withdrawn patients to happy, healthy, energetic little humans. This exposure led to my involvement in projects focusing on improving regulations and practices pertaining to organ transplants. One of these projects is Tell (Transplant Education for Living Legacies), a non-profit organisation which I co-founded. Tell aims to change and lead the conversation around organ and tissue donation in South Africa. Almost a decade on, I continue to happily tread down this path I’ve chosen. Every day I actively strive to find optimal solutions to the organ shortage we face.
For a moment I'd like to move on to who I am when I remove my thinking cap.
I am an only child who has always found solace between the pages of a book. This behaviour might have led to my overactive imagination and unrealistic expectations in life. When I am forced to remove my life support from my Macbook I can be found spending time with one of my favourite persons, my own Mr. Paddington, and our two fluffy faces, Maximus and Lily. In the more recent years, I've discovered a love for running and yoga (which was a horrifying discovery for a person who has never been active and dodges a ball as if it were a dangerous weapon). Any other spare time is usually devoted to either daydreaming or planning on future travel adventures.
If you share my passion to improve South Africa’s health care situation come and embark with me on this exciting education initiative! Visit the contact page or reach out on social media (displayed below) if you have any pressing questions.