PETALING JAYA - Malaysians must not fear organ donation as it will only be considered after the patient suffers brain or cardiac death, said National Transplant Resource Centre head Dr Lela Yasmin Mansor.
She stressed that every individual who came to the hospital would be given "the best treatment possible" to save their lives.
"The doctor's priority is always to save the lives in front of them. It is only in the event of death that the family will be given the opportunity to think about that option (organ donation)," she said.
Dr Lela said while some families might be aware and accepting of organ donation, they could forget the option in their time of grief.
She reminded those keen on pledging their organs that they should act quickly and most importantly, inform their loved ones about their wishes.
"What we want is for everyone to be ready. They should discuss it and the family must know it is the deceased's wish to donate his or her organs," she said.
Dr Lela also assured families that the donor's body would be treated with the utmost respect and would be handed back in the best condition.
"There is definitely no disfigurement. The only visible marks will be small incision scars - sometimes even the sutures can't be seen," she explained.
The Star reported that there were 16,479 people on the waiting list for organ transplants, out of which 16,449 were kidney failure patients.
The Health Ministry has set in place procedures to expedite the organ donation process for road accident and homicide victims who suffered brain or cardiac death.
Its deputy director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this was because such cases involved police investigations and took a longer time to be completed.
Dr Lela said people could easily register as an organ donors online at www.agiftoflife.gov.my, and the card would be mailed to them.