A dire need for organ donation (Poll Inside)


PETALING JAYA: There are 9,070 kidney patients who are waiting for an organ transplant, according to the National Transplant Resource Centre (NTRC).

As at May this year, only 31 people had had organ transplants – and that includes liver, heart and other transplants. There is an acute need for organ donors in the country.

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According to the NTRC, kidney patients make up the highest percentage of those needing organ transplants. They make up 9,070 of the 9,097 on the waiting list.

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Of that number, 8,833 patients are adults needing kidneys and 237 are paediatric kidney patients.

The remaining patients waiting for organ transplants include 11 liver patients (nine adults and two children), 14 heart patients and two heart and lung patients.

NTRC deputy director Dr Hasdy Haron said it is essential to identify individuals who have committed to donating their organs.

Some fall through the cracks, as it is not known that they pledged their organs.

ALSO READ: Register to become an organ donor

“Based on a previous study by the NTRC, we missed out on almost 3,000 potential donors because we were not able to detect them earlier,” he told The Star.

“We have reminded hospital staff and our team to ask relatives if their family members who were declared cardiac or brain dead had pledged their organ donors, so we will not miss an opportunity to save lives,” he said.

He said there are also plans to develop an information system where public hospitals can track the donor status of an individual. However, he acknowledged that the mechanism must address the confidentiality of the donors.

“The trend of cadaveric organ donation over the last five years is not enough. The annual trend for organ donation is only around 30 to 40.

“We are receiving a steady number of pledges, reaching up to thousands every month.”

As at May, the centre had received 15,521 active pledges for cadaveric organ donation for this year.

It is understood that kidney patients can wait up to 10 years for transplants, unlike other organ transplant patients, thanks to dialysis.

Another setback on organ donation, Dr Hasdy said, is the refusal by family members to consent to organ donation because they had not been informed earlier.

According to the National Transplant Procurement Management (NTPM), refusal to consent is the second highest reason for failed organ donation since 2001 through May 24 this year.

“It is best for individuals to discuss with family members after pledging as organ donors.

“While there is no consent needed to pledge as a donor for those above 18, we have reminded those who pledged to discuss the matter with their families,” he said.

Dr Hasdy said there are programmes by the NTRC such as Jom Ikrar, Jom Bincang and Let’s Talk through which pledgers can inform and discuss with their families.

MySejahtera’s new feature for the public to register as organ donors last year also allows for the next of kin to be informed of a person’s decision to become a donor.

“This is important for both those who pledged and their families, as it is still a sensitive topic.

On the other hand, there are also families who donate the organs of relatives who had passed on without pledging to be donors.

“In fact, less than 20% of our actual cadaveric donors are registered as pledgers,” said Dr Hasdy.

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