Number of organ donors still low

JOHOR BARU — Only 23 people have successfully donated their organs this year which constitutes a rate of 0.68 per million population.

National Transplant Resource Centre (NTRC) head of clinical management and national procurement coordinator Dr Omar Sulaiman said the number was comparatively lower than 2015 and last year, with 71 and 35 donors, respectively.

Since 1975, only 400,000 people have pledged to donate their organs, which makes up only 1.2 per cent of Malaysia’s 40 million population.

“The number of organ donors in the country is low when compared to the 21,115 chronic kidney patients in need of organ transplants. In fact, the number of those in need increases by one every 11 minutes,” he was quoted by Sinar Online as saying after an organ donation awareness campaign at Permai Hospital here yesterday.

“The low number of organ donations also contributed to many deaths among heart and liver patients as their conditions did not allow their bodies to withstand any longer.”

Omar said about 70 per cent of the successful organ transplants were donated by individuals who died in road accidents, while only 10 per cent of pledges were received after the pledgers had died.

“Although some individuals made a pledge to donate their organs when they were alive, we still need the approval from their family members after their deaths,” he said.

“Most families do not allow this, so we end up not having the authority to perform organ transplants to other patients.

“We hope individuals who have pledged to donate their organs would consult their families first.”

Omar said the organs from one deceased individual could help at least eight other patients suffering from chronic illnesses, as an organ transplant is deemed the best possible treatment.

“A pair of kidneys can be transferred to two patients, the liver can help four patients, the heart could go to another patient, while a pair of lungs could benefit another,” he said.

“Various programmes are being carried out to raise public awareness on this matter and we hope to achieve, at the very least, the rate of one donor per million population in the next five years.”

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