Radical option for organ transplant

  • Letters
  • Thursday, 02 Aug 2018

Why can’t I sell my kidney?

I REFER to your reports “Worrying lack of transplants” (The Star, July 26) and “Illegal kidney transplant dilemma” (The Star, July 27).

The reports stated that there are about 40,000 Malaysians on dialysis. That number will grow as new cases emerge each year while patients live longer with better dialysis services.

Yet, the number of kidney transplants performed per year is reported to be only about 59 per one million population (pmp).

These statistics raise many concerns. Unless some new thinking is applied to this problem, new dialysis centres will have to be set up in increasing numbers and government subsidies for these centres would grow uncontrollably.

Patients on long-term dialysis experience poor quality of life and although the treatment may be subsidised, there are other costs involved, including travelling to the centres, special food and hospitalisation. The patient would have also lost his job and become unemployable.

A kidney transplant is the best option but, as the report stated, we only have a small pool of organ donors.

The solution would be to allow healthy individuals in this country to donate one of their kidneys for a fee. Giving one kidney away has been proven to be safe. Doctors agree it will not affect the health and longevity of the donor.

The donor could sell his kidney just like he sells anything he owns to some buyer who wants it. It is a commercial transaction.

In order to prevent any form of abuse, the government can regulate the process. The donor and recipient must be carefully checked and the fee can be fixed according to the prevailing market rate. If the recipient is unable to pay, the government could step in to top up. By reducing the number of people on dialysis, the government actually stands to gain in the long run.

But in order to make this happen, the Health Minister has to table a Bill in Parliament to make this practice legal, like in Iran where unrelated kidney donors are permitted. The government could stipulate that both recipient and donor must be Malaysian.

The biggest group expected to object to this practice would be members of the medical profession. But it is well known that when a doctor becomes a victim of end-stage renal failure, he often seeks out his medical colleagues to find him a good donor to buy a kidney for a fee, often from China or India.

So, if an individual can sell a car which he owns, why can’t he sell his kidney which he also owns?


Kuala Lumpur

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