PUTRAJAYA: Over 10,000 patients are waiting for another chance at life, but only a mere 845 deceased organ donors are available to give that second chance, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa reveals.
She said there was an acute need for more organ donors.
According to Dr Zaliha, there are 10,747 patients on the transplant waiting list compared to 845 deceased organ donors.
“We are still one of the 10 lowest countries (in organ donation rates) in the world. But we are improving,” she told reporters after attending the National Organ Donation Awareness Week at the National Cancer Institute in Putrajaya yesterday.
According to Dr Zaliha, Malaysia has had 370,130 organ donor pledgers since 1997, with 22,268 new pledges being registered this year.
She said the first organ transplant operation took place in 1975 involving a kidney transplant between siblings.
“Though it has been more than 45 years since the first organ transplant surgery, organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Malaysia is still low compared to the number of end-organ failure patients who require transplant surgery.”
According to her, there is an increase in patients with end-organ failure, and among the main causes were non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and diabetes.
Dr Zaliha also announced that the Organ Donation Awareness Week would become an annual event and this year’s theme was ‘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 the meaning of life to end-organ failure patients who need transplantation and it also brings meaning to the donors and their families that they gave hope to those in need,” she said.
At the same time, Dr Zaliha said no religion forbade their followers from donating organs and transplant.
“In Islam, organ donation is considered ‘harus’ (permissible), according to the National Fatwa Council in 1970,” she said.
She added that organ donation rate of Malaysia stood at 0.7 donor against one million population presently.
“I urged all Malaysians to be together with us in realising our aspiration to achieve one donor to one million population rate,” Dr Zaliha said.
She also said aspiring organ donors could register as one via the MySejahtera app.
“Inform your wishes to be an organ and tissue donor to your closest family members so that they can fulfil your wishes in future,” Dr Zaliha said.
The Organ Donation Awareness Week is from Sept 7-13.
Further information on organ donation can be obtained at www.dermaorgan.gov.my