Query: Asking for altruistic organ donor via Facebook


We had this query via the MMR Facebook page

Hello Dr, may I enquire if it’s legal to put on FB to look for altruistic kidney donor in Malaysia ? I have come across in the UK n USA that they put FB site to locate generous people to help either as a family or by previous kidney recipients to help others. My mum is in dire need as she’s in kidney failure

In Malaysia, altruistic non-related kidney donors are not allowed without special permission from the UTAC (Unrelated Transplant Approval Committee), and even so this is exceptional. See section 5 of the MOH guidebook on organ transplants which you can view here:

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5. Who can be a living donor?
In Malaysia, the Ministry of Health allows living organ donation only to your close blood relative.
This includes your identical twin, your first degree relative and your second degree relative.
You may also donate to your legal spouse (husband/wife). If you wish to donate your organ
to someone who is not genetically related to you or to a distant relative (a third degree relative
and beyond), you will need to be evaluated by an Independent Committee appointed by the
Ministry of Health. Following this evaluation,permission may or may not be granted.

So I’m afraid soliciting for altruistic organ donors via Facebook or social media is a bad idea. There are many ethical issues as well which arise from such solicitation overseas, such as what this Loyola study found.

Do note that kidney transplant is not the only solution for end stage renal failure patients as there are other options, namely dialysis, either haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.
Patients should be aware that kidney transplantation also has its short term risks (e.g. surgical risks particularly in older patients with coronary stents and ischaemic heart disease) and long term risks including cancer.
See this page by NHS on risks of Kidney transplant.
Patients also need to be aware there is also an ongoing cost of taking expensive immunosuppresive medication to prevent rejection (though immunosuppressants are free if transplant is done locally in govt centres)

The above reply was written with the help of Doctors (including nephrologists) from the Dobbs Doctors Facebook group


Malaysian physician, haematologist, blogger, web and tech enthusiast