This 80-second video sends out a powerful message. But why is reality so different?
As of now, we have 243,000 registered organ donor pledgers in the country. That’s 0.8% of our 29-million strong population. With 18,384 patients awaiting organs for a second shot at a healthy life, these numbers are despairing. Are Malaysians really that against saving lives? Not really.
Many people we’ve talked to want to sign up as an organ donor, but few have actually gone ahead with it. Some were procrastinating. Some just plain didn’t know where and how to do it. Some had questions regarding the entire process but couldn’t get any answers.
We caught up with three young Malaysians to find out what being a pledged organ donor means to them.
Mary-Ruth Low, 25, Research Assistant
What compelled you to sign up as an organ donor?
I’ve always thought it was a logical thing to do, like blood donation – it’s always in need and it costs you nothing to give it away. It’s helpful to remember you wouldn’t require them anymore, so you’re not actually losing anything by donating them.
Was there someone who inspired you to take that step?
A close family friend had an “I’m an organ donor” bumper sticker on her car and I googled it and signed up online. The signing up was really simple, surprisingly. You just fill up a form online and they send you a card in the mail. I presume one would keep the card in their wallet so that paramedics (or whoever is in charge) can tell you’re an organ donor.
What compelled you to join the organ donor registry?
I find that it is the right thing to do, and it is the least that one can do for the best of someone else’s life. I think it’s the greatest investment to enable someone to live life as a normal healthy person instead of having my organs buried when it can save so many people.
How’d you find out about signing up as a donor in Malaysia?
The fact is that organ donation is almost non-existent in our daily conversation and I have not heard it from anyone. Perhaps it is a taboo, causing people to not recognise its significance. I went to find out about organ donation online after thinking about the right obligations I can do in the various aspects of my life. Google led me to AGiftOfLife which answered some of my queries.
Did you have any fears when it came to pledging as a donor?
Personally, there’s nothing that scares me about cadaveric organ donation. However, my family and relatives probably have some concerns when it comes to funeral procedures, as the physical appearance of a person is deemed significant during that period.
It is common to have misunderstandings and fear especially when none of your family or relatives talk about organ donation, and sometimes speculate on spiritual or cultural practices. AGiftOfLife has addressed these common concerns very clearly that the surgery will be taken care well and respectfully to ensure that funeral impressions are not affected.
Any words of advice to share with wannabe organ donors?
You must talk to your family because upon sudden death, it will be your closest family who decides what happens to your organs. If you wish to have your organs donated, it’s best to inform your family members so they can fulfill your wishes. It also takes a period of adjustment and further information to address their concerns before proceeding to sign up. I don’t think you should sign up for organ donation unless you are sure about it, with your family backing you.
Why did you pledge your organs?
I felt it was a waste to let my organs decompose the moment my life ended. So why not do something beneficial? I believe there are millions of people who are in need of organs and also, imagine it’ll be awesome where different parts of you are still in this world even after you have left!
How did you first find out about it?
From my very own mother! My family was very supportive.
How was the sign-up process like?
Sign-up was easy and you’ll be given a donor card. It’s good that you let your friends and family know about this, so when you pass away, they are able to inform the hospitals.
We’re sure you agreed with the three kind souls above about the positives of organ donation. There really is nothing more altruistic than passing on your life baton as you move on to another adventure.
Find out more about organ donation and learn how to sign up here.