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Malaysian doctors bypass blood match for organ transplants.

July 2011 — Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced today Malaysia’s first successful blood group incompatible kidney transplants (also known as ABO incompatible transplants).

Doctors at Prince Court Medical Centre (PCMC) in Kuala Lumpur have broken through the blood group barrier to organ donation, boosting chances for patients suffering from kidney failure to get a new one without it having to match their blood type.

Led by consultant nephrologist and internal medicine Datuk Dr Tan Si Yen, PCMC successfully operated on two men who had advanced renal failure.

The health minister said new medical technology has now paved the way for up to one-third of the nation’s 28 million population to be potential donors and counter the short supply of organs available for transplant.

In the past, the transplant programme could only be carried out if both donor and patient shared the same blood group to avoid the risk of the body immediately rejecting the transplanted organ after surgery.

“The initiation of the first two ABO incompatible kidney transplants shall be an important initial step for us to explore other innovative ways in addressing the issue of organ supply,” Liow said.

He noted the wide gap between demand and supply. As of June this year, 13,955 Malaysians needed organs, yet less than 400 donors have offered themselves up since 1975.

With this new technology, kidney transplants cost between RM150,000 and RM180,000, PCMC chief executive Stuart J.V. Pack said, adding that it was among the lowest in the region for a first-class facility. In comparison, the cost for kidney transplants within the compatible blood groups is at least RM70,000, Pack said.

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