SEREMBAN - Doctors performing organ transplants must now report to the National Transplant Resource Centre every month in a move to curb possible commercialisation of human parts.
They are also required to explain to an organ donor the risks involved in such procedures. Failure to do so can be regarded as an inducement attempt.
Health Ministry director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said that due to the huge disparity in the number of organ donations and the people on the waiting list in Malaysia, it had to take measures to prevent any possible commercial transactions, particularly in transplants involving unrelated living donors.
This, he added, was also to safeguard the interest and safety of the donors, and to uphold ethical practices in line with international standards.
"The huge imbalance between demand for and supply of organs from deceased donors has resulted in many people seeking for supply from living persons.
"They include strangers and sourcing organs from other countries, especially from underprivileged societies," he said, adding that the practice of organ transplants involving living donors unrelated to recipients had triggered many arguments.
The organ donation rate in Malaysia is only around 0.64 donations per million people or about 17 donations per year. However, it is estimated that up to 11,000 people are on the waiting list.
There were 47 cadaveric donors last year, an increase from 38 in 2010. The highest demand for organs in Malaysia are for kidney, heart, lungs and liver.
Dr Hasan said these provisions were listed under the Unrelated Living Organ Donation: Policies and Guidelines, published as part of the ministry's commitment to implement recommendations under the World Health Organisation's Guiding Principles on Human Cell, Tissue and Organ Transplantation 2010.
This is in line with the international community's fight against the commercialisation of human parts, human or organ trafficking and transplant tourism.
Under the guidelines, all organ transplants involving non-Malaysians should also be reported to the National Transplant Registry and receive prior approval from the ministry's Unrelated Transplant Approval Committee (UTAC).
Doctors must also ensure that there is no coercion or any other form of inducement obtained from a prospective donor.
Dr Hasan said transplants involving unrelated living donors would only be allowed if there were no cadaveric donors or in cases of non-compatibility between family members, adding that a policy was important as those in lower socioeconomic groups had a higher risk of being manipulated.
"It will be the responsibility of the clinicians to verify the status of relationship. If this is doubtful, they shall refer such cases to the committee."