PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Even a small percentage of organs from road accident victims can make a big difference, said National Transplant Resource Centre head Dr Lela Yasmin Mansor.
She said there were some 7,000 deaths on the road every year, while tens of thousands of people waited for organs.
"Although the brain death rate is very high for accident victims, those who do manage to qualify as organ donors could help many people," she told The Star.
Dr Lela said there was a total of 16,479 people on the waiting list as of Jan 31 this year. Out of this number, she said 16,449 were waiting for a kidney transplant.
The shocking number of kidney patients, she said, was due to the fact that they could still survive on dialysis treatments while other organ failure cases usually resulted in a quick death.
"In addition, there are 4,000 to 5,000 new kidney failure patients every year," she said.
The Health Ministry has consistently warned that diabetes and hypertension are major risk factors for kidney failure, while its statistics in 2011 showed there were more than three million diabetics in the country.
The third National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted in 2006 also showed hypertension amongst Malaysians aged 30 years and above had shot to 42.6%.
Dr Lela said the number of donors was still dismally low, with the highest being 47 donors in 2011 half of which came from cardiac deaths.
Cardiac deaths mean that only parts such as the heart valve, corneal tissue, skin and bones can be procured as the organs would not have been obtained in time.
She said most families of accident victims did not consent to organ donations as they were unsure of the wishes of the deceased.
"They dare not do so even though they know it is a good thing. Doctors find it difficult to talk to grieving families unless they know it is the wish of the deceased," she said.
Dr Lela advised those keen on becoming organ donors to inform their families and keep the organ donor card in their wallets.