BANGI (Oct 16, 2011): Beginning January next year, Malaysians who travel abroad for organ transplants provided on commercial basis will not be allowed to get free supply of immunosuppressant drugs from government hospitals.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said this is to stop people from going overseas to get such treatment from unrecognised foreign hospitals without the approval or knowledge of the ministry.
“Many people do organ transplants in unrecognised hospitals overseas and faced many complications later. We want to encourage Malaysians to do it locally since we have the expertise and sophisticated hospitals here.
“The decision was also made because the government does not want to be a part of the organ trafficking syndicate which is rampantly happening overseas,” he told a press conference today, after launching the National Organ Donation Awareness Week at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
Also present was Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar, Organ Donation Awareness Action Committee chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye and UKM vice-chancellor Tan Sri Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hassan Shahabudin.
Liow however said the new ruling only applies for new cases while previous ones could continue getting their supply of immunosuppressant drugs from the hospitals.
The drugs, costing between RM800 and RM1,000 per month, are needed on a continuous basis for life by patients who have gone through organ transplant.
According to the National Transplant Registry Report, from 2000 until 2010, of the total 1,482 cases of kidney transplants in Malaysia, 914 (62%) were conducted overseas with the bulk of the cases in China (834).
Liow said commercial organ transplant is a kind of organ trafficking which is against the World Health Organisation Guiding Principles on Human Cell Tissue and Organ Transplantation, National Policy on Cell Tissue and Organ Transplantation and the 1970 National Fatwa.
Encouraging more Malaysians to become organ donors, he said until Sept 30 2011, only 181,534 (0.64%) of the population have registered as donors while there are 14,037 patients on the waiting list – mostly kidney patients.
To date, only 342 donors underwent successful transplant surgery, including 33 cadaveric donors. Among the organs donated are cornea, kidney, heart valve, bones, heart, liver and skin.
When pointed out that the small number of donors could result in patients seeking treatment abroad, Liow said those who need to do surgery overseas must consult the ministry to get the suitable place approved by the government.
He said among the reason for the lack of organ donors is family members’ refusal to allow the organ transplant even though the deceased has already pledged as a donor.
“The biggest excuses are fear, religious condition and to avoid from hurting the body of the deceased,” he added.
Originally published by thesundaily.my
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