Although the need for an Association for tissue banks had already been expressed in 2009 at a South African Transplant Society (SATS) meeting, it was only on 26 March 2012 that a small meeting took place for the first time with the aim of initiating an association.

On 19 April 2012 an introductory e-mail went out from Prof Michael Pepper’s office and included a questionnaire to tissue banks regarding their expectations from possible tissue bank association. This was received with great enthusiasm in the industry and legitimised the initiative.

On 22 April Dr Elmi Muller – the then President of SATS – invited members to support and participate in the Inaugural meeting of the South African Tissue Banks Association and committed to the sponsorship of the event.

4 May 2012 saw the Inaugural meeting of SATiBA at the Radison Blue Hotel in Sandton with representation from fifteen tissue banks, three invited speakers and written support from SATS, the Ophthalmic Society of South Africa (OSSA) and the South African Orthopaedic council. The main topic discussed was the functions and benefits of an association: communication and collaboration; accreditation and training; national legislation; data collection and financial implications. At the end of the meeting, Prof Michael Pepper, Sandra Venter and Dr Eduard Sevenster were elected to take the necessary steps to drive the process further.

On 29 November 2012 the next meeting was held at the Cascades Guesthouse in Waterkloof, Pretoria with 20 delegates attending. The meeting saw department of health representation and aslo presentations regarding: an electronic database; the potential for an independent coordinator at forensic pathology services and successful quality management.

During 2013 progress was made with the drafting of the Articles of Association; a funding proposal was submitted to the Sasol Global Foundation and standards of practice for “Cellular Therapy: Collection, Processing, Storage and Distribution” were drafted.

On 30 May 2014, SATiBA hosted its first workshop “Challenges facing SA in obtaining donor corneas for transplantation” at the University of Pretoria. This workshop included presentations on the Eye bank perspective; the Netcare position on the matter; and the Protection of Personal Information Act.

In November 2014 it was decided to involve more individuals from member banks to assist in the practical functions of moving SATiBA forward and a working committee was established which includes: Prof Michael Pepper, Sandra Venter, Petrus Loubser, Dr Yvonne Holt, Cleo Motsoari, Sr Lynne Pickering, Dr Charlotte Ingram, Louis Rehrl and Prof Magda Slabbert as legal representative.

On 16 January 2015 this committee met for the first time and by the end of the meeting first priorities were set: A pledge of a R5000 donation from each represented organisation; a decision for a nominal membership fee for all member banks; development of a logo and website; and a date for the first conference was set as 17 & 18 September 2015.

On 26 January 2015 the MOI was sent in for the registration of SATiBA as a Not for profit company, with the interim board of directors as: Prof Michael Pepper, Sandra Venter, Petrus Loubser, Dr Yvonne Holt and Louis Rehrl.

The first Annual General Meeting of SATiBA was held on 17 September 2015 at the Irene Country lodge, where the Memorandum of Incorporation was formally accepted by members.