AN ORGAN donor who died shortly after an operation to remove her kidney last week is believed to be the first donor death in almost 30 years of living-related kidney transplants.
The 33-year-old woman donated one of her kidneys to her husband, who had been on dialysis for several years.
A few hours after the operation on Feb 16, she collapsed and died while recovering in a ward at the National University Hospital.
The couple have three young children aged 10, nine and two.
Her death may set back attempts to increase the number of living donor kidney transplants in Singapore, which has one of the lowest rates among developed countries.
Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State for Health and a strong advocate of more living-related kidney transplants, said on Wednesday: I'm deeply saddened by this tragic death.
On its impact on such transplants, he said: This is a setback. We will have to wait for the coroner's investigations to find out what happened.
We'll have to see why the patient died and see what we have to do to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
A post-mortem was carried out and the case is now with the coroner's court.
The woman's 35-year-old husband, who is still in hospital after the transplant, was taken to Mandai Crematorium in an ambulance on Saturday to recite the rites at her funeral.
The hospital is also conducting an internal investigation into the death. Its chief executive officer Chua Song Khim said: The loss of our patient deeply saddens us. We share the family's grief at the loss of their loved one.
Chua said the hospital was in touch with the family and would help them during this difficult period.
Singapore first carried out living-related kidney transplants in 1976 and has done over 400 to date.
Last year, 52 patients received a kidney from a family member, while 32 got them from dead donors.
The operation is considered very safe for both donor and recipient, with one death out of 3,000 kidney donors worldwide.
A Health Ministry spokesman said that despite the risk that serious complications can occur with any major surgery, kidney transplantation remains the best treatment option for patients with end-stage kidney failure.
Despite the opt-out kidney transplant law, which allows organs to be taken from accident victims, the waiting list grows yearly, with more than 660 on the list at the end of last year.
The average waiting time is seven years for a cadaveric kidney. The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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