National Heart Institute successfully conducts two heart transplants after six-year hiatus

KUALA LUMPUR: After a six-year hiatus, the National Heart Institute (IJN) conducted two successful heart transplants in January and February.

Both patients, Muhammad Farhan Irfan Mohd Razif, 20 and Danielle Kang Yu Xin, 18 were given a second chance in life with their heart transplants.

However, a heart transplant was not possible without a willing donor who matches the blood type and the size of the patient.

Muhammad Farhan had been on the waiting list since May last year. After waiting for eight agonising months, he finally received a new heart in January.

“Although 382,020 citizens have pledged to donate organs, only 0.002% actually donate.

“There were families that did not consent to the donation when the time came,” said IJN chairman Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He added that organ donation has been a continuous problem for the past 30 years of heart transplantation.

“There is still a stigma (against organ donation) in our society, not just for the heart but also other organs, even though it is allowed in Islam.

“If we don’t have enough organs, how can we carry out more transplants?” he said, adding that one option was for citizens to “opt out” from being donors instead of asking them to register voluntarily.

Dr Noor Hisham said this during “Second Chance At Life: Successful Heart Transplant Journey,” an IJN event on Monday (March 11).

Heart and Lung Transplantation and Mechanical Heart Programme clinical director Datuk Dr Mohd Nazeri Nordin said Malaysian surgeons had been performing heart transplants since 1995.

“We have conducted 41 transplants, including the heart and lung transplants.

“The longest surviving patient of a heart transplant was 25 years and 11 months and still ongoing. He was the second patient to receive a heart transplant in Malaysia,” he said.

He also added that for both heart and lung transplants, the longest survival currently was 12 years and nine months, and for lung transplants only, 14 years and four months.

As heart transplants were costly, insurance would not cover transplant procedures, said IJN chief executive officer Datuk Dr Aizai Azan Abdul Rahim

“We are thankful to be given grants from the Health Ministry and Finance Ministry to cover the cost of the operation,” he added.