Many pledges but few organs gifted

(From left) Dr Asmayani and Penang Hospital director Dr Teo Gim Sian showing the organ donor cards at the Ambulatory Care Centre building.

ALTHOUGH many pledge to be organ donors after their demise, their loved ones often refuse to give consent.

Out of 430,572 Malaysians who pledged since 1976, a mere 689 had their organs donated after their deaths.

There is now a list of 20,068 Malaysians waiting for organ donations, which could save their lives.

Penang Health Department director Dr Asmayani Khalib pointed out some pledged their organs without informing family members.

“In some communities, this is a taboo because of the belief that the dead could experience pain in the afterlife if their organs are harvested, ” said Dr Asmayani.

She said that as of Oct 31, those waiting for transplants included 20,044 for kidney, 10 for liver, eight for hearts, three for lungs along with three for hearts and lungs.

Dr Asmayani said those who have pledged their organs should have family members attend organ donation awareness programmes which are regularly held by the Health Ministry.

She said such campaigns were vital to changing public perception on organ donation.

Speaking at the recent ‘Follow Your Pledge’ event at Penang Hospital, Dr Asmayani said there was a silver lining despite the low donation rate because more young people have come forward to register.

“More young people are pledging their organs.

“It is a positive development because this shows an increase in public awareness towards the importance of organ donation.

“This also indicates that our youths are not only young and active, but also mentally and socially healthy, ” she said.

In Penang, she said 4,449 people pledged their organs and tissue this year alone.

“Based on statistics from the National Transplant Resource Centre, 43,608 Penangites or 3.2% of the state population have registered as organ donors, ” she said.

Nationally, she said only 1.32% of all Malaysians have done so.

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