The Ministry of Health (MOH) refers to an article published in The Sun UK dated 8th August 2020 titled “Organs for Sale, Kidney trafficker brags to The Sun about luring poor victims into selling organs to desperate Brits on Facebook for £85k”. In the article, a Malaysian is portrayed to be participating in this unscrupulous act. MOH also takes note of an article by Bernama dated 13th August 2020 titled “Wanted ‘organ trader’ surrenders to Sarawak police” which reports that this case is being investigated under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.
The MOH strongly condemns and is against any form of organ trafficking or the obtainment of an organ for transplantation via trading. The country’s healthcare system neither condones nor allows for such heinous acts to occur.
Malaysia is committed to protecting the health and safety of every donor and recipient in transplantation. This commitment is illustrated in the enactment of the Human Tissue Act (1974), which legally controls the removal of an organ for therapeutic purposes. In addition, Malaysia is a signatory of The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism (2008). The declaration states, organs for transplantation should be equitably allocated to suitable recipients without regard to gender, ethnicity, religion, social or financial status. The declaration also emphasised that organ transplant commercialism should be prohibited because it targets the impoverished and otherwise vulnerable donors leading subsequently to injustice and inequity. Hence, any practice that induces vulnerable individuals/groups to become living donors is seen as encouraging organ trafficking, transplant tourism and transplant commercialism.
Consistent with these national and international obligations, the MOH does not support any individuals or organisations engaging in such illegal and unethical procurement. In this regard, the MOH will give full cooperation to the investigating authorities if required. Apart from that, the Ministry will continue to collaborate with the relevant bodies and organisations to promote public awareness as well as to educate and encourage ethical donation.
The MOH has an established transplant committee that governs our organ donation programme. For example, if an unrelated person wishes to donate to a potential recipient, a thorough assessment including medical and psychosocial evaluations will be carried out by this committee to ensure the donor’s wellbeing and availability of a reasonable support system once the donation has taken place. This step is to protect the donor from complications arising from inadequate or false information on organ donation and to assure that the activity does not involve any form of coercion or organ trading. All these measures are crucial as patient safety is the highest priority in our healthcare system.
The MOH calls for more Malaysians to pledge as organ donors. However, it is crucial that the decision to be an organ donor is conveyed to respective family members. The Ministry has established the National Transplant Resource Centre (NTRC) as a one-stop centre that provides information and assistance with regards to organ donation and transplantation in Malaysia. All queries can be channelled to NTRC (03-2681 0681 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah
Director General of Health Malaysia
15 August 2020