KUALA LUMPUR: Lung transplants are rarely undertaken in Malaysia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, due to difficulty in finding donors.
Like kidneys, it is possible to donate part of your lung to save someone — while you’re still alive.
That was the message three patients suffering from debilitating lung diseases conveyed yesterday at the National Heart Institute (IJN).
Malaccan Azaryna Noh, 26, first suspected something was wrong with her lungs while doing her Masters in electronic engineering at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
In January, she was diagnosed with progressive scarring of the lungs which rendered her body oxygen starved. She left her dream job after working for seven days and now needs a transplant if she is to be taken off a respirator.
Vijaya Ramasamy, 32, from Petaling Jaya was diagnosed with lung problems in March last year – just three months after her wedding.
Norliyana Mohd Nor, 26, of Temerloh, Pahang, was diagnosed in October 2008, leaving her unable to spend time with her 22-month-old daughter due to frequent hospitalisation.
The lives of these patients could be improved tremendously if they could get matching lung transplants, said Hospital Kuala Lumpur's (HKL) consultant respiratory physician Dr Ashari Yunus.
"Since 2003, when IJN's Cardiothoracic Department and HKL started the heart and lung transplant programme, patients on the active waiting list increased but organ donation did not. As a result, some died while waiting for their transplant.
"Since we began this programme, 15 of 55 patients on the list died."