Increase in families consenting to donate organs of dead relatives

PHOTO: Increase in families consenting to donate organs of dead relatives

KUALA LUMPUR - More than half of families approached by doctors to donate organs of their deceased loved ones consented.

National Transplant Resource Centre chief national donor coordinator and procurement manager Datin Dr Lela Yasmin Mansor told The Star that this was a two-fold increase from 2000, when only about 25% families said yes.

"Last year, we had 151 cases (of potential donors) referred to us, and out of that, there were discussions with the family in 113 cases. 58 families (51.3%) consented to organ donation," said Dr Lela.

"Almost one-third of these discussions are also initiated by the family," she added.

Dr Lela noted that this indicated an increase in awareness about organ donation.

"The problem is that we are not approaching (potential donors' families) enough," she said.

Dr Lela also explained that doctors and medical staff often found it difficult to bring up the subject.

"That is why we need to give them training," she said.

If the potential donor is already brain dead, doctors could also maintain his or her organs so that they will be in good condition for donation, Dr Lela added.

Last year, 22,835 people had pledged their organs, bringing the total number of organ dona-tion pledges recorded in the National Transplant Registry to 181,534.

Currently there are 14,013 people waiting for kidneys, 17 waiting for livers, two waiting for hearts, three waiting for lungs, and two waiting for both a heart and lung.

"The reason why there are so many people on the waiting list for kidneys is that there is an alternative treatment, which is dialysis," Dr Lela said.

People who are waiting for other organs may not survive if they do not receive their organs in time, she added.