Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 20, 2008

Long wait for ‘good organs’ goes on

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:37 am

NST: KUCHING: It is a grim statistic — one in three Malaysians on the waiting list for organ transplants will die before a donor is found.
The waiting list was long and there was a serious shortage of organ donors, Sarawak General Hospital director Dr Zulkifli Jantan said at the hospital’s organ and blood donation awareness campaign here yesterday.
Furthermore, organs can only be harvested if the donors “die in the right condition”, he added.
“That means that if the donor is killed in an accident in which he is mutilated or he died from an illness, his organs cannot be harvested because they could be damaged and, therefore, unfit.”
He said organs were best harvested from brain-dead donors.
To illustrate the difficulty in carrying out a successful organ harvest, Dr Zulkifli said in the last eight years there had only been one successful harvest performed at SGH.
That was in 2000 when the kidneys, heart valves and corneas of a brain-dead 60-year-old woman were harvested.
State Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Soon Choon Teck said there were an estimated 450 patients in need of a new heart.
“And there are many others in need of a kidney, liver, cornea and tissues like heart valves, skin and bones, leaving thousands without much hope of finding a suitable donor.”
The main reason for the reluctance to volunteer organs upon death, was not religious prohibitions, but misconceived notions and prejudice, he added.
Some 94,000 people have pledged to donate their organs in this country, including about 4,000 in Sarawak.
In the state, the most sought after organs are the kidneys and the skin.
While cultural taboos and misconceived ideas had long been barriers to the Chinese in donating blood, Dr Zulkifli said the Chinese in Kuching had broken that barrier.
“More than 50 per cent of the blood donors here are Chinese.”
He said this was significant when compared with the figure of 15 per cent Chinese donors in the other major cities, including Kuala Lumpur.
Blood banks in the state, he said, still faced serious shortages because the state had not achieved the national donor target of five per cent of the state’s population.
Sarawak, Dr Zulkifli said, had only achieved a two per cent score, lower than the national average of three per cent.
He said it was for this reason that the hospital, together with the Red Crescent Society, was holding the donation drive to “further break down the barriers” and get more people to become donors of organs and blood.

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