THE National Transplant Resource Centre fears that the sensationalisation of false news reporting the trading of organs in Malaysia has created a culture of mistrust among people.
This has in turn affected the number of new organ donor pledgers this year as statistics show only 19,330 people pledged this year as of September.
It is a stark decrease when compared to the 49,758 pledgers in 2015.
The centre’s chief clinical manager Datin Dr Fadhilah Zowyah Lela Yasmin Mansor said there are too many unsubstantiated claims surrounding organ donation going viral on social media.
“These claims on organ trading, which have been highlighted repeatedly, are not true because such a trade does not exist in Malaysia.
“Even though we communicate with the public and the families of deceased patients about this, we found there were still a lot of ‘nos’ for organ donation.
“One of them even said, ‘Why should we donate when you are going to sell our organs?’” she said at a press conference here during the closing ceremony of the Organ Donation Awareness Week programme at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital late last month.
Dr Fadhilah said although she has clarified that organ trading does not happen in Malaysia, people on social media choose to pick up on negative issues.
“All hospitals that handle the process of organ donation are under strict supervision to ensure that organ trading does not occur.
“Malaysian patients who travel overseas to buy organs should bear in mind that it is religiously and ethicallly wrong, and in many countries, it is illegal,” she said.
Dr Fadhilah also lamented that people still believe social media reporting on children being kidnapped and murdered for organ harvesting in Malaysia.
“The pictures put up are clearly doctored, but people will believe anything sensational.
“Even when the police say it’s not true, people are reluctant to accept the truth.
“This is where the centre, the Health Ministry and other organ transplant bodies should work towards a common goal of regaining the public’s trust and support,” she said.
In regards to the number of actual organ donations after death, Dr Fadhilah said they recorded 30 organ donors in 2015, but the number dropped to only five this year so far.
Dr Fadhilah said Malaysia records an average of 7,000 to 8,000 deaths a year from road accidents and the organs are not viable for donation.
“With road accidents on the rise, hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to find viable organs from donors and now, it is also a challenge to get those alive to donate,” she said.