Big imbalance in organ transplant needs vs availability, says Dr Zaliha


PUTRAJAYA: Despite 10,747 patients being on the organ transplant waiting list, Malaysia only has 845 actual deceased donors, says Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

Dr Zaliha said there is a significant imbalance between the number of patients on the waiting list against the number of organ donors.

“We are still one of the 10 lowest (in organ donation rates) in the world. But we are improving, God willing,” she told reporters after officiating National Organ Donation Awareness Week at the National Cancer Institute here on Thursday (Sept 7).

According to Dr Zaliha, Malaysia has had 370,130 organ donor pledges since 1997, with 22,268 registered this year.

Dr Zaliha said the first organ transplant here, a kidney donated by one sibling to another, took place in 1975.

“Though it has been more than 45 years since the first organ transplant, organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Malaysia is still low compared to the number of end-stage organ failure patients who require transplant surgery,” she added.

According to Dr Zaliha, there has been an increase in patients with end-stage organ failure, and among the main causes were non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and diabetes.

She also said Organ Donation Awareness Week will be an annual event, with the theme for this year being Derma Organ: Erti Sebuah Kehidupan (Organ Donation: The Meaning of a Life).

“This theme carries a deep meaning in our efforts to create a positive impact on the life of a donor or recipient.

“Organ donation can give meaning to the life of an end-stage organ failure patient and it also brings meaning to the donors and their families, that they gave hope to those in need,” said Dr Zaliha.

At the same time, she said no religion forbids its followers from organ donation and transplantation.

“In Islam, organ donation is considered ‘harus’ (permissible), according to the National Fatwa Council in 1970,” she added.

Dr Zaliha said the organ donation rate of Malaysia stood at 0.7 donors against one million population at present.

“I urged all Malaysian to be together with us in realising our aspiration to achieve a rate of one donor to one million population,” she added.

Dr Zaliha also said aspiring organ donors can register their intention through the MySejahtera app.

“Indicate your wishes to be an organ and tissue donor to your closest family members so that they can fulfil your wishes in future,” she added.

Organ Donation Awareness Week will take place from Thursday to Sept 13; among the programmes lined up are a poster drawing competition and a quiz, among others.

Further information on organ donation can be obtained at www.dermaorgan.gov.my

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