Many in queue for organs

As of March, more than 500 patients with organ failure are still waiting for donor organs to have a new lease on life.

Of these, 448 are on the National Kidney Transplant waiting list while on dialysis. Another 28 are in the queue for new livers, six for hearts and 22 for corneas.

Shortage

A persistent shortage of organs means that the wait for a kidney from a dead donor, for example, stretches an average of nine years.

And desperation has driven some patients overseas - especially those who are able to pay between $50,000 and $100,000.

About 30 kidney patients head overseas every year for organ transplants despite the risk of infection and the fact that organ trading is illegal.

China and India are popular destinations where organs are available to foreigners with money and where ethnic similarity makes it easier to obtain a matching kidney.

A newspaper report in May said that, aside from a peak of 49 overseas transplants in 2005, the number in recent years has hovered between 23 and 39.

And between 2006 and 2010, about two dozen returned with medical problems. Some returned with serious infections, mostly hepatitis, diabetes and heartproblems.

The Health Ministry said that at least half of those seeking transplants abroad are under the age of 50.

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