KUCHING: It is estimated that more than 450 Malaysians are in urgent need of new hearts and many others in need of new kidneys, livers, corneas and tissues like heart valves, skin and bones each year.
However, due to cultural taboos about organ donation, they are on a long waiting list of organ-transplant patients and one third of them will die while still on the list.
Sarawak Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Soon Choon Teck said that thousands of them would have little hope of finding suitable donors.
“The reality is that there is a serious shortage of organ donors and this shortage is expected to rise. It is not due to a lack of organs but because of people’s reluctance to volunteer their organs upon death.
“Unwillingness to donate organs is not because religions prohibit it. The major impediment is people’s attitudes due to misconceived ideas, prejudices and mindsets,” he said at the Sarawak General Hospital’s (SGH) organ and blood donation awareness campaign here recently.
The text of his speech was read by the Sarawak Chief Minister’s political secretary Phang Dah Nan.
To meet increasing demand for organ transplants, Dr Soon urged religious groups to play a role in educating the public.
“As an organ donor, you can help up to five people to have a second chance at life, and if you count the donation of tissues, the number of people you can help will double,” he said.
Meanwhile, SGH director Dr Zulkifli Jantan said about 94,000 people had pledged to donate their organs, of whom about 4,000 were from Sarawak.
However, there was only one successful case performed at SGH in 2000 when the kidneys, heart valve and cornea of a brain-dead 60 year-old woman was harvested.
“Sometimes, the organs are not harvested because of family objections
“Organ donors should inform their families about their decisions as only they can carry out the cause when they die. This will make the process easier when the time comes,” he said. Bernama