KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has the lowest number of organ donors, resulting in nearly 15,000 patients being put on the waiting list to undergo organ transplant.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the figure was low at 0.6 for every million people in the population.
"Organ donors in Malaysia are still low compared with other countries. We need to create awareness to encourage more people to make the pledge," he said in a statement yesterday.
There are 15,420 patients waiting to receive organs as of June 30, with the majority of them being kidney patients while the rest suffered liver, heart and lung diseases.
More than 196,300 Malaysians, or 0.88 percent of the population, had pledged to donate their organs.
The majority of them are Chinese, followed by Indians, Malays and other races.
Liow said there was a steady rise in new pledges made over the years, from 10,081 in 2006, to 28,769 last year.
The World Health Organisation's Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation said the organ donation rate in Malaysia was at 0.636 for every one million population.
In Spain, 34.35 per one million of the population were donors, followed by the United States (25.49), the United Kingdom (15.07), Australia (11.33) and Singapore (5.0).
Liow said since the first organ transplant was performed in 1975, Malaysia had conducted 1,659 transplants involving organs from dead and live donors.
He said the procedure was easier to perform after the recent landmark operation at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, where a kidney transplant was done between two people with different blood groups.
"The procedure, known as ABO incompatible kidney transplantation, has been done in many developed countries."
Liow added that the surgery was more complex than a conventional transplant as higher doses of anti-rejection drugs, plasma filtration and closer antibody-level monitoring were needed. But he said this procedure could help more patients.
Previously, kidney transplant could only be done when the donor had the same blood group as the recipient.