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National organ pledges double in five years

 | June 14, 2016

National Transplant Resources Centre says increase also due to more Malays being willing to pledge organs following more effective outreach to the community.


KUALA LUMPUR: The National Transplant Resources Centre (NTRC) registered a huge increase in the number of pledges from Malaysians between 2010 and 2015, its chief, Dr Lela Yasmin Mansor, said.

Speaking to FMT, Lela said, based on annual pledge rates, there were 46,650 pledges last year, which were more than double that of the 20,377 pledges made in 2010.

She attributed the leap to the Organ Donation Awareness Week, an initiative by the government since 2010 in educating the public on organ donation and the common misconceptions.

“We wanted it to be something no longer frightening. So, we organised street campaigns in market places and shopping malls.

“And, in that week, we hold programmes such as forums, debates, art competitions and many more.”

Lela said the secret to reaching out to large numbers of people was simple as it was merely a matter of approaching them and speaking to them about the benefits of organ donation.

“In 2014, the highest number of pledges came from Terengganu. We were shocked because the state has a 97% Malay population. We thought we would never get donors from them.

“The volunteers went to the markets (in Setiu), approached the people and spoke to them.

“In the end, they managed to get more than 400 pledges in four hours. That’s when we realised that this is the secret to reaching out to more people.”

This led to their awareness campaign theme last year titled “Let’s Talk”, as Lela explained the misconception surrounding organ donation, which often stemmed from fear and ignorance, hence the title.

Lela said that by tackling the bull by the horns and confronting tough questions about organ donation, it could change the public’s perception, eventually making it an ordinary topic to talk about.

“Let’s talk, because fear is not talking about it. Let’s talk, so it becomes something usual.

“Last year, even though we conducted the awareness campaign on a hazy day, we still managed to get about 7,000 pledges on that day within four hours throughout the country.

“And, by the end of the week, we managed to get 10,000.”

However, it is still a long road ahead for the NTRC as there are currently more than 350,000 pledges registered since 1997, which is slightly more than 1% of the population.

This compares with countries like Spain and the United Kingdom, which have a high organ donation rate of about 30%.

“We still have a long way to go. But we were like 0.8% and 0.9% for a long time, so this is good.”


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