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Malaysia suffers acute organ shortage

Publication Date : 12-07-2012


An estimated 7,000 potential cadaveric organ donors die in Malaysia every year yet there is an acute shortage of organs for transplant here.

This has led to many Malaysians suffering from end-stage organ failure going overseas for illegal transplants.

Kuala Lumpur Hospital Nephrology Department chief Dr Ghazali Ahmad said they would go through brokers who arrange for the surgery to be performed overseas.

"Where do they get the organs from?...From reports, we know that many transplants are not conducted ethically and may involve criminality," said Dr Ghazali.

He was speaking after moderating a lunch talk by Canadian lawyer Prof David Matas on organ trading at the Academy of Medicine, Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

He said cadaveric donors were crucial as apart from kidney and partial liver transplant, organs for most other forms of transplant can only be obtained from dead people.

"The main thrust in organ donation should be cadaveric donors as a dead person cannot be harmed any more," said Dr Ghazali, adding that Malaysians were still not receptive towards the idea.

He said cultural, traditional, religious and emotional perceptions were the biggest challenge in encouraging cadaveric organ donations.

"We consistently get less than 50 kidneys per year while the current number on the transplant waiting list is about 16,000," said Dr Ghazali.

He added that when Malaysians undergo organ transplants overseas, they would return with a referral letter from the surgeon and hospital.

However, patients now come back with only a scar to show they had undergone surgery, says Dr Ghazali.

According to Dr Ghazali, the National Renal Registry indicates that in 2010, 35 Malaysians had undergone kidney transplants in China and one had his transplant done in India.


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