PETALING JAYA – The number of new organ donors pledged has dropped since last year, while the waiting list for vital transplants continues its growth.

According to data from government websites, and KKMNOW, the introduction of the digital organ donation feature in MySejahtera in September 2022 resulted in an initial increase in signups.

The number of new pledges for 2022 as a whole rose to 51,825, up from 7,057 only in 2021. However, the increase did not last.

Registrations dropped by 45% last year, to 28520, compared to 2022. This year’s drop is even greater.

Only 4,879 pledges were made between January and April of this year, a 61% drop from the 12,460 pledges in the same period the previous year (2023).

The decrease in pledges from last year may be due to the fact that Malaysians no longer use the MySejahtera application regularly, or they have uninstalled it. This was stated by Dr HasdyHaron, deputy director of the National Transplant Resource Center.

He stated that the only way to register as an organ donor is through the MySejahtera application.

Originally developed to assist authorities in managing the Covid-19 epidemic, the app was launched in 2020.

MySejahtera was updated in order to include additional health-related features, including the registration to become an organ donation.

Selangor had the highest number of organ donors pledged last year, at 8,275. Johor was second with 3,609 and Kuala Lumpur third (3,167).

Kuala Lumpur was the top-ranked state in Malaysia last year, with 2.32% pledged organ donation. This was followed by Putrajaya (2.11%), Penang (1.66%), Johor (1.35%) and Selangor (1.34%).

The 19502 organ donors registered over the course of a year, from April 2023 through April 2024 were dominated by those aged 20-29. They accounted for 7,401 (37.1%) followed by 30-39 (5892 (30.2%), and finally 40-49 (16.9%).

Extended wait

The number of patients waiting for organs is on the rise despite a decline in pledges to donate.

The NTRC portal reports that 9,455 patients are on the organ donor and transplant waiting list as of April of this year. This is up from 9,097 in May of last year.

The number of kidney patients on the waiting list is highest. On the waiting list, they make up 9,415 out of 9,455.

8979 of those patients are adults, while 436 are children.

Better efficiency

The number of transplants has increased despite the slower rate at which new donors sign up. This is due to a better way to identify existing donors.

According to figures released by the International Registry in Organ Donation and Transplantation, Malaysia’s organ donation and transplantation rates improved last year.

The actual rate of deceased organ donors improved from 0.70 per million people (pmp) in 2022 to 1.25 last year.

IRODaT data shows the number of dead donors in 2018 was 43, compared to 23 in 2022.

The number of living organ donors was also improved (4.96 donation pmp), as were kidney transplants (2.39 donations pmp) from deceased donors and living donors (4.81 donations pmp), as well liver transplants (0.73 donation pmp).

According to IRODaT, 82 kidney transplants and 25 liver transplants were performed last year from deceased donors.

Dr Hasdy stated that the increased donation rate in 2017 was probably due to a better ability to detect deceased donors at the right time, so their organs could be obtained for transplantation.

We have around 16 hospitals with a Hospital Organ Procurement Unit that specializes in detecting and identifying people who have pledged to donate their organs.

The unit will then ask the family for consent to organ donation after identifying the deceased person who pledged to be an organ donor.

Although we are happy with the increase of organ donors and the transplantation rate last year, we still strive to improve those figures.

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