Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 9, 2007

Binding pledge: Move to drop family consent

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:09 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Family members will not be able to object to the removal of organs pledged by a brain-dead donor from next year.
The government plans to amend the Human Tissue Act 1974 and the Medical Act 1971 next year to do away with the need for consent.
This is to save more lives and expedite the process of organ transplants.
The move was necessary, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said, because family members of many people who had pledged their organs had objected to the removal of organs.
As a result, the pledged organs of donors who were brain dead could not be used to help others.
Dr Chua said as long as two specialists certified that a person who had pledged to donate his organs was brain dead, the organs would be harvested.
He said after the amendments, the objections of family members and relatives would not count.
He said the ministry was also considering making it compulsory for doctors to inform relatives of brain-dead patients about organ donation.
“At present, many doctors do not do that as they try to avoid the parents.
“I am very frank about this as I think doctors tell relatives in big hospitals but not in small hospitals,” he said after visiting 14-year-old heart transplant patient Tee Hui Yi at the National Heart Institute yesterday.
He said there were about 110,000 organ pledgers in the country. There were only 13 organ donors in 2005 and 25 last year. Less than 20 per cent of those from whom organs were harvested had pledged their organs. Most of the organs were taken from those who had not pledged them.
This year, 19 people have donated 20 kidneys, two hearts, three livers, six heart valves, 24 corneas, a lung and four bones.
“Since last Wednesday, many lives have been saved because of organs harvested from brain-dead people.
“The last few days saw a lung transplant being performed at IJN on a Sarawakian and six kidneys being transplanted at Kuala Lumpur and Selayang hospitals.”
He said these organ donations were made possible because of the publicity created in the media about organ donation.
“We want to sustain this publicity so that we can get more organs from brain-dead patients.”
Dr Chua said IJN had asked for an allocation of RM30 million to develop its cardiology unit.
It wants to buy equipment, including more mechanical hearts, and carry out training.
“I will bring this up at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. I think IJN deserves the allocation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s Nephrology Department head Dr Ghazali Ahmad said 28 renal transplants were performed at the hospital this year, of which 13 kidneys were taken from dead persons and the rest from living donors.
Similarly, he said, 10 renal transplants were performed at the Selayang Hospital, with six kidneys from dead persons and the rest from living donors.
“There are 15,000 chronic kidney patients on dialysis and every year, some 2,600 new cases come in. About 9,000 of them need kidney transplants,” he said, adding that this year it had received 20 kidneys from brain-dead people.

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