National Transplant Resource Centre: Almost all organ donation pledgers do not honour promise

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 ― Almost all who pledge to donate their organs after their deaths, do not honour their commitment, the National Transplant Resource Centre (NTRC) said.

Utusan Malaysia reported that statistics from the NTRC showed that between 1997 until April 2022, only 2,641 (one per cent) of the 510,186 who pledged to become organ donors, kept their promise.

Of the 2,641, 1,752 donated their livers while still alive, while 651 donated theirs after death. The report said that 49,111 stage five dialysis patients are still waiting for organ donations, and that the number reflects a critical situation, forcing them to undergo dialysis treatments.

Speaking to Utusan Malaysia, chairman of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), Datuk Dr Zaki Morad Mohd Zaher said the number of stage five (final stage) kidney patients in 2020 was 49,111 people, all of whom needed to undergo dialysis treatment.

“Of that number, 43,729 patients underwent haemodialysis which required them to go to a treatment centre or hospital to clean the blood by removing residual toxins, excess salt and fluids. The rest, a total of 5,382 patients underwent peritoneal dialysis treatment where the blood cleansing process is done at home without requiring the patient to come to the hospital,” he said.

Compared to 2019, the number of kidney patients is 48,857 people, of which 42,070 underwent haemodialysis treatment and 4,929 underwent peritoneal dialysis treatment. According to Dr. Zaki, although the number of organ pledgers is high, the lack of kidney organ supply is due to some pledgers who died in conditions that were not suitable for their organs to be donated such as dying at home.

“When they die at home and no one knows, we miss the opportunity to take their kidneys. If they die at home, we can only take the cornea (eyes) and bones because it can be taken after even a few hours.

“Kidney donors have to die in certain circumstances such as in a hospital, to enable the hospital to take their organs. This is because the surgical process needs to be done immediately, that is, within four hours to enable the organ to function,” he said.

Dr Zaki said that when kidney patients are in the final stages, they can no longer prevent the disease which can only be treated using a dialysis machine for life or wait for organs from donors.

He said that only about 20,000 kidney patients are eligible to receive new organs or undergo kidney transplant treatment due to certain health factors.

“More upsetting is that we only get 80 to 100 kidneys every year which causes new kidney patients to have to wait almost 20 to 30 years to get organs from donors,” he lamented, adding that kidney patients have been increasing every year.

Dr Zaki said that 26,962 new patients were recorded between 2019 and December 2020 alone.

“Of that number, the highest number of new kidney patients is in 2019, which is 9,419 involving 7,992 patients undergoing haemodialysis treatment and 1,427 undergoing peritoneal dialysis. As of December 2020, 9,006 patients involved 7,511 who underwent haemodialysis treatment and 1,495 underwent peritoneal dialysis,” he said.

In this regard, he said, apart from waiting for the donors to die to donate organs, donors can also donate organs during life. However, he said that this situation would only happen in families.

“This patient is also undergoing dialysis treatment. However, when they want a better quality of life, such as wanting to work and get married, we advise them to do a kidney transplant donated by the family,” he explained.

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