Raising awareness on organ transplant

Priyanka says proceeds from the virtual run, after deducting costs, will go to two patients awaiting transplants.

THE Covid-19 pandemic has impacted organ transplant work tremendously.

“Transplant is viewed as an ‘elective case’ that can be postponed, ” a source involved in organ transplant said.

Hospitals had to stop their transplant service for couple of months in 2020, the source added.

Even this year, a number of living donation cases were postponed as there were not enough beds in the intensive care unit.

National Transplantation Resource Centre (NTRC) statistics showed 50 cadaver kidneys last year compared to 31 in 2019. However, it is not known how many donated kidneys were used.

NTRC said 5,027 dialysis patients were waiting for kidney transplant as of December last year.

As such, it is all the more important to heighten awareness of organ donation.

To this end, Universiti Malaya’s (UM) Medical Faculty is once again organising its annual run, this time virtually.

A series of events in February and March has also been organised to raise awareness of organ donation, particularly kidneys.

2021 Organs for Love Virtual Run project director and medical student Priyanka Sekaran said they were doing it virtually because of current restrictions on gatherings.

“We want to disseminate accurate information regarding organ donation.

“Doctors are very passionate about it because they face patients daily and witness their suffering, ” she said.

A series of activities, including webinars involving professionals and patients sharing their knowledge and experiences, has been planned.

A two-time kidney recipient will encapsulate his long and arduous transplant journey on Feb 19.

This patient’s first transplant was made possible, thanks to his brother who donated a kidney. The second donation was from his wife.

On Feb 26, doctors and medical professionals of different faiths will share their views on organ donation.

There will also be fitness workshops on Feb 6 and March 6 involving yoga, muay thai boxing and virtual gym webinar on pilates and konga dance.

The main activity is the virtual run where participants will run 5km on their own. They can also do it cumulatively.

They would need to download fitness apps such as Nike Run Club, Run Keeper and Strava, Priyanka said.

They can then submit the distance they have clocked.

Registration for the run opened on Jan 22 and there is an early-bird rate of RM57 until Feb 28.

The fee between March 1 and 17 is RM60 per participant. A bundle of four registrations from Feb 5 to March 17 is RM220.

The collection after the outgoings will be donated to two patients awaiting transplants.

Priyanka said UM had also initiated a branch of medicine known as transplant medicine.

“A transplant involves many aspects, both at the patient, family and medical level.

“It involves expertise from different branches of medicine coming together.

“The nursing and technical teams have to come together to make a transplant possible. Then there is the huge need for ICU care.”

Particularly with cadaver transplants, precise and decisive coordination were needed, she said.

The aim of transplant medicine as a master’s programme is to prepare a medical student to be an organ transplant coordinator.

The programme would be introduced at the faculty in 2022, she said.

For details on the virtual run and to register, go to Facebook page: Organs For Love Walkathon or Insta @organsforlove.

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