THE number of patients undergoing kidney transplant therapy in Brunei Darussalam has risen from 524 in 2010 to 579 in February 2012, the Minister of Health yesterday.
Speaking on the World Kidney Day at the Rizqun International Hotel, Gadong, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof said out of 579 patients, 34 patients have undergone kidney transplant and the remaining are on dialysis treatment. He added that 484 patients are undergoing hemodialysis while 61 peritonil dialysis.
The theme of this year's World Kidney Day (in Brunei) is "Donate a kidney for life". The minister explained that the theme carries the message that donating a kidney to a patient with kidney failure can help improve the patient's quality of life and increase his/her life expectancy.
Kidney transplant is a process where a damaged kidney is replaced with a healthy kidney that has been donated by a donor, said YB Pehin Dato Hj Adanan, adding that the donor with one kidney can still lead normal life.
Not all patients can go through kidney transplant because it is not easy to get donor whose kidney is compatible with the patient.
Before a kidney transplant operation, the donor and patient need to fulfil certain conditions prescribed by the Kidney Transplant Policy in Brunei and the policy of the country where the operation takes place, said the Minister of Health.
He added that in Brunei, the government sends patients overseas for kidney transplant operation whose kidney donor is still alive and is close family relative.
This is done to avoid issues of ethics and ensure the safety of the patient.
As of now, kidney transplant patients are sent to Singapore or Malaysia. However, efforts are being made to make this service available in Brunei in the future once there are specialists and required facilities, said YB Pehin Dato Hj Adanan.
Brunei has been sending patients overseas for kidney transplant since 2004, thus far, 21 patients have been sent under government funding.
The cost for one kidney transplant is between $60,000 and $120,000 depending on the patient's condition and the type of complication, said YB Pehin Dato Hj Adanan. This cost is not inclusive of transportation costs, accommodation and patient allowance, he said, adding that the cost of medication for one kidney transplant patient is $2,000 a year.
One of the benefits of kidney transplant is that it reduces the risk of death caused by heart failure, improves the quality of life of the patient and saves cost for the government in the long-run, he added.
Patients with kidney failure are encouraged to opt for a transplant. However, the government does not encourage the patient to seek for treatment in places that are not recognised," said YB Pehin Dato Hj Adanan.
Earlier, the Minister of Health explained that kidney disease can be divided into five groups based on the level of kidney damage. The level of kidney damage a patient has can be found out through the tests.
When a patient reaches stage five, the chances of the kidney recovery is slim. Medication as well as advise given then is to slow down the damage.
Currently there are 1,356 patients at stage three and four and there are 150 patients at stage five, said YB Pehin Dato Hj Adanan.
When the function of a kidney reduces to less than 10 per cent the treatment that can be given is Renal Replacement Therapy (RRT), that is either kidney transplant or dialysis.
He said that when patients reach End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) they need kidney transplant therapy. There are three methods of RRT, they are; hemodialysis, peritonil dialysis and kidney transplantation.