Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 5, 2007

Organ donations save many lives

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:07 pm

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said yesterday the heart transplant on Tee Hui Yi showed the life-saving nature of organ donations.
He said 1,500 of the 6,000 accident victims every year were declared brain dead.
“Brain-dead patients have too little or no chance of survival. Their organs can be used to save others’ lives. But most of the time, the parents don’t agree to organ donation.”
By medical definition, brain death is considered absolute death as there is no brain activity and machines keep the patient artificially breathing. But most families consider the patient to be alive as long as the person is breathing, even if it is through a ventilator.
Dr Chua said Malaysia was not ready for an opt-out system, where citizens are automatically organ donors unless they officially inform the government they wish to opt out. Countries that practice this include Singapore, the Czech Republic and Austria.
Malaysia practises the opt-in system, where people sign up to be organ donors.
“In five or 10 years, maybe we can think of opting out brain-dead people but for now, no,” he said.
It is estimated that there is a yearly need for 1,200 kidneys, 450 hearts, 250 livers and 700 corneas.
As of June 30, there have been 108,000 organ pledgers. They are made up of 62 per cent Chinese, 23 per cent Indians and Malays 12 per cent.
Of this figure, 54 per cent are women and 45 per cent men.
“Although the number of people who have pledged organs seems high, the number of those who have actually donated their organs is far smaller,” said Dr Chua.
He explained that parental objections, citing culture and religion, were among the reasons people did not donate their organs. Twenty-five people donated their organs last year.

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