Oldest kidney donor in South-East Asia doing well

Simah Empaling and her daughter Ibi Uding.

KUALA LUMPUR - An 82-year-old woman became the oldest living kidney donor in South-East Asia when she donated a kidney to her daughter two years ago.

Simah Empaling and her daughter Ibi Uding, 50, are back to their regular way of life after the operation, with Ibi running her cleaning business with her husband.

"Now, I want to rear 110 goats in our rubber plantation," said the enterprising Ibi, an Iban from the Merakai longhouse in Serian, 80km from Kuching.

Ibi, who had polycystic kidneys, said she lost hope when she heard that her kidneys had failed in late 2012. By January 2013, she no longer had any appetite, and her weight had dropped from 72kg to 55kg.

After Ibi was put on dialysis, two persons from a church offered their kidneys to her, but her doctor said organ transplants involving non-relatives were not allowed in Malaysia.

Her husband was also ruled out as he was diabetic.

"When my mother saw me on dialysis, she broke down and said she could not see her child die before her," said Ibi.

Several tests were carried out on Simah, then 79.

Following the transplant, the doctors were amazed that Simah's kidney functioned like it belonged to a 40-year-old, with Ibi having no problems passing urine with the donated kidney.

Within three days, Simah was out of the intensive care unit, a pheno­menon attributed to her good health after toiling as a padi farmer and rubber tapper.

Simah, who has 25 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, said she has not had any problems since the transplant.

"I still plant vegetables in my garden and clean my own house," she said.

Nephrologist Prof Datuk Dr Tan Si Yen said it was not a problem for the elderly to donate kidneys if they pass the tests.

The oldest living kidney donor in the world is an 83-year-old man from Britain.

Dr Tan said the success rate involving living related donated kidneys was better than cadeveric donors, and on average, they could last more than 20 years, with the world record currently at 48 years.

ABO incompatible (ABOi) renal transplants, such as the one received by Ibi, have a similar success rate, he said.