When I was 21, I did not know what organ donation was about. I wasn’t concern about it. What’s going to happen to my body, will the doctors save my life if I am close to dying, does my religion allow it? No. Zero concern. I only knew I was following my dad (who was also pledging) and in my mind, I knew I was doing something right.
Sometime in September, I was approached by the National Transplant Resource Centre – an invitation to participate in ‘Let’s Save Lives Charity Fun Run, Jog And Walk’, a health and awareness initiative to not only educate the public on organ donation, but also in conjunction with Hari (bulan) Sukan Negara.
I visited them at Menara Wisma Sejarah (Dr.Diana and Dr.Hasdy) and they asked me the same question mostly everyone asks: What made you pledge? And I gave them the exact same answer as I mentioned above: I don’t know.
Mainly because I wasn’t educated on the topic. Yes, I know it was a noble thing to do. Yes, I know they would cut me open when I die. Yes, just pledge whatever I can give. But how, what, where, why? I never truly asked. The National Transplant Resource Centre asked for my help – to talk more about it, to share how I felt about pledging, to create awareness. And after about 2 hours of talking, I agreed that I, other pledgers and other influencers, could spread awareness on the topic.
Malaysia is among the lowest in record of pledges . We have approximately over 20,000 patients in need of an organ (source). Even smaller country, Singapore, is doing better in getting pledges. Why are we so concern, worried, consumed about keeping organs to ourselves instead of giving it to someone who needs it more to survive? After all we are dead and have no use for the organs anymore. This could be a beacon of light for someone else to continue on with their lives!
Dr.Diana said it is our culture to be afraid of change, trying something different and breaking the barriers of our comfort cocoon. This is so true in so many cases, not just for organ donation.
Perhaps what we lack is education and awareness on the topic: type of organs, how we should keep ourselves healthy, family consent is important, what are the implications if we had our organs taken, does Islam condone organ donation etc. That’s how humans are – we are often afraid when we don’t know.
But I do agree with her on that point about Malaysians – we, generally, have that ‘tidak apa‘ attitude, the ignorance and the unwillingness to educate ourselves or find out about something unless it directly concerns us. Even so, when a family member is in need of an organ, tak tentu lagi we would consider donation (true story!) or even reading up about the topic.
What Organs Can Be Donated
In Malaysia you can pledge to donate:
- Organs: Heart, lungs, kidneys and liver
- Tissue: Eyes, heart valve, bone, skin (source)
You must also assume that when you pledge your organs (you can choose which by the way), they could just harvest all of them when you passed away. Nope. There are many things that concerns a successful donation and transplant. Your health condition (any HIV or chronic diseases), current need, organ match, family consent, how did you past way, etc.
Type of Death
HOW DID YOU PAST AWAY? You read right. How did you die. Only donors that died a ‘brain death’ can donate organs and tissue (source). If you had a cardiac death (mostly normal death) you can only donate tissues. Apparently if you died at home, you can only donate your eyes. In most cases, technically a lot of people die in the hospital and a cardiac death. As you cannot tell how anyone is going to die, this also increases the need and importance of organ donation awareness and pledges.
Yep, I didn’t know that. When Dr.Diana told me, I was taken by surprise and it kinda hit me there and then: you can never guarantee you would even be suitable if you pledge your organs. That’s just crazy! No wonder the need is so high!
Right now in the country, the highest need for organs are the kidneys. When I first heard the answer, I told myself “ok, must be a normal thing”. But Dr.Diana continued by saying: “That’s because most people with kidney failures can live off one kidney or by going through dialysis. People with chronic heart, lungs and liver failure would usually end up dying while waiting for suitable donors.”
THAT’S JUST SO MESSED UP.
When I think back about it, I didn’t consider it to be ‘so important’ when I pledged. Yeah, I pledged. But it wasn’t a big deal to talk about it or convinced my family and friends on the importance of organ donation. Today, after I have read more and spoken to the National Transplant Resource Centre, I feel like everyone in Malaysia should pledge – to increase the chances of helping our fellow countrymen, to help another human being survive complications and have a better, more wholesome life. As you cannot guarantee the suitability of becoming a donor upon death, why risk it at all by not pledging?
Educate yourself and if you believe that everyone has a purpose in life, yours might just be saving lives by organ donation.
You can find out more about the National Transplant Resource Centre or Pusat Sumber Transplant National by visiting their website, Facebook page & Instagram account.
Official Website: http://www.dermaorgan.gov.my
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dermaorgan/
SAYA SUDAH BERIKRAR. DERMALAH ORGAN DEMI SEBUAH KEHIDUPAN
I’ll be talking more about this soon, when I come across some other reading material. Have a great weekend! Lotsa love.