Desperate for a new lease of life, Malaysians in need of organ transplants are resorting to getting them in countries like China and India.
They are willing to pay huge sums for them - doling out up to RM500,000 (S$162,000) for the part and the necessary surgery.
So far, there are no reports of Malaysians selling organs, says Health Ministry medical development division transplant unit head Dr Hirman Ismail, reported The Star.
But, yes, there are cases of Malaysian patients going out of the country to buy such parts, he says.
To deter such illegal trading, the Organ and Tissue Transplantation Bill was drafted and is with the Attorney-General's Chambers for further deliberation.
The new law is set to ban organ trading and regulate living organ donations - organ donations by people who are still alive.
Currently, the Human Tissues Act 1974, which will be replaced by the new Act, only governs organs donated after the donor is dead. It is silent about organ trading.
"That is why we need a law to regulate living donations and prohibit organ trading," says Dr Hirman.
"So far, organ trading has been happening outside Malaysia but Malaysian patients are involved. We need to be proactive to prevent such activities by having this law."
Dr Ghazali Ahmad, who is Hospital Kuala Lumpur nephrology department head and senior consultant, says that if there are no strong deterrents in place, unregulated transplants between unrelated people could conceivably be carried out if the right incentives are offered.
PAYING OF KIDNEY
Kidney patient Simon (not his real name) says he decided to take a chance on a deal to get the organ in China.
Paying a significant amount of money to a third party, the 50-year-old businessman flew to China and was checked into a facility for eight days.
The operation was a success, says Simon, and he is on a course of anti-rejection drugs that costs him a few thousand ringgit a month.
Asked what made him resort to such drastic measures, he says he might have had to wait years for a transplant through regular channels in Malaysia.
Furthermore, he is already 50 and is not a preferred candidate for an organ compared with younger patients, he says.
This article was first published on October 5, 2015.
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