Saturday, December 12, 2009

11,000 waiting for kidney transplants

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 11,000 patients are still waiting for kidney transplants while 29 others need livers, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said another eight patients needed heart transplant surgery while 12 others had to undergo lung transplants and heart and lung transplants for two other patients.
“Up until Friday (Dec 11), we obtained 36 cadavers, 32 kidneys, four livers, 23 pairs of corneas, 19 heart valves tissues, seven bones and three skin.
“However, the number of patients waiting for organ transplants are far more than what we have obtained,” he told reporters at a press conference after the launch of the 3rd Global Bio-Herbs Economic Forum here Saturday.
Last year, he said, 56 kidney and five liver transplant surgeries had been carried out but there was no transplant of heart and lung.
He said by the end of last year, the cumulative organ transplant operations were kidney (1,264), liver (86), heart (19), lung (three) and heart and lung (one).
“The number of pledges for organ donation for this year is 13,546 while the accumulated pledges since 1997 is 135,847.
“We need more people to come forward to make the pledge so that we can save more lives,” he said, adding that 45% of them were male.
Liow said his ministry would send a thank you note to the parents of a 17-year-old boy from Kampar who consented to donate their son’s organs, including the heart, after the teenager was declared brain-dead after a road accident.
“We are sad over his demise but we also want to express our gratitude to his parents for making the decision to donate his organs,” he said.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Asia’s first valve implant without surgery

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The National Heart Institute (IJN) achieved another milestone by performing the first heart valve implant in Asia without the need for open heart surgery.
The procedure has a 99% success rate.
Known as trans-catheter aortic valve implantation (Tavi), the procedure allows for problematic valves in the aorta to be replaced with an artificial one by using a catheter, a tube that is 6mm in diameter.
The tube is inserted either in the thigh or below the left collar bone and then slid through arteries to the heart.
“Patients, who have gone through Tavi, will be able to move around on the third day after the implantation but they will be required to lie down during the first 24 hours,” said IJN medical director Datuk Seri Dr Robaayah Zambahari during a press conference yesterday.
The procedure, which uses a device called CoreValve, causes less trauma to body tissues and enables a faster recovery compared to the conventional open heart surgery as only incisions are made at certain areas to insert the tube.
Dr Robaayah was part of the team of IJN consultants which performed the procedure on two patients on Nov 25; a 73-year-old man and a 77-year-old man, both of whom had severe narrowing of heart valves.
The third patient is National Laureate Datuk Shahnon Ahmad, 76, who was treated the next day.
Other team members were cardiologists Datuk Dr Rosli Mohd Ali, Dr Shaiful Azmi and cardiothoracic surgeons Datuk Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub, Dr Jeswant Dillon and anaesthesiologists Datuk Dr Mohamed Hassan Ariff and Dr Sharifah Suraya.
The procedure was assisted by Dr Ganesh Manoharan, a consultant interventional cardiologist from Ireland, who will oversee the operations of the next 12 to 15 patients currently on the waiting list.
The CoreValve device costs RM112,000 while another RM10,000 is needed for other operation costs.
Dr Robaayah hoped that the Health Ministry would support and subsidise the procedures for the public in future. The current ones were borne by the institute.
Dr Robaayah said there had yet to be any case of a patient rejecting the artificial valve, which is made out of a type of metal called Nitinol.
The procedure takes between 45 minutes and one-and-a-half hours.
“We took about two-and-a-half hours for the first patient because we were still learning about the procedure and wanted to be careful,” she said, adding that the method was only performed on high-risk patients such as the elderly.
Dr Ganesh said local anaesthesia was applied to the patients and they remained conscious during the procedure.
“It is not surprising to see patients smiling as we conduct the procedure on them,” he said.
Dr Ganesh said about 50 centres worldwide were using the technology, adding that it was suitable for Asians as their blood vessels were generally smaller.

Friday, December 04, 2009

90% don’t use condoms

Star: GEORGE TOWN: Some 90% of drug users do not use condoms and this is a source of worry because it can contribute to the rise of HIV/AIDS cases, said social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir.
Marina, an Asia Pacific Leadership Forum on HIV/AIDS steering committee member, said drug users continued to neglect the use of condoms despite the contraceptives being distributed for free by some non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
“Condoms are 98% safe and it can present an affordable way to combat the spread of the disease,” she told reporters yesterday after the opening of the World HIV/AIDS Day national conference.
The two-day conference was launched by Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Marina said 24-hour convenience stores should be allowed to sell condoms off-the-shelf although some state governments were against it.
Malaysian AIDS Council vice-president Datuk Zaman Khan said the distribution of free condoms did not mean that NGOs were encouraging free sex.
In his speech, Liow said the country was on track towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV by 2015.
He said the disease remained a potent threat because of the increasing infection through sex and more women were becoming infected.
Liow said the notification rate of HIV/AIDS in the country had continued to fall each year after it peaked at 6,978 cases or 28.5% per 100,000 population in 2002.
Last year, it was 13.3% per 100,000 population and this year indication shows that it may drop to 11% per 100,000.
“I am optimistic that the country can arrest the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015 based on current trends,” he said.

Brace for rise in H1N1 cases

Star: GEORGE TOWN: The recent increase of Influenza A(H1N1) cases in the northern hemisphere serves as a reminder for countries to be alert for a possible second wave of the flu.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said 95% of countries in the northern hemisphere had recorded a rise in new cases.
The ministry, he said, had stepped up efforts to ensure the second wave was kept at bay in Malaysia. He added that the country must remain vigilant as the outbreak was still at Level Six, the highest of the World Health Organisation’s pandemic alert scale.
‘‘We cannot take this lightly although the H1N1 outbreak has stabilised in the country.
“We must ensure, where possible, that a second wave does not hit us,” he told reporters yesterday after launching the World HIV/AIDS Day national conference.
As of yesterday, the death toll still stood at 77 out of 12,210 confirmed cases while four patients remained in critical condition. For the week ended on Nov 28, a total of 589 cases were reported for flu-like illnesses, of which 573 have been discharged, said Liow.
To prepare for the second wave, he said the ministry had vaccinated 6,617 frontliners.
He said the ministry had also upgraded its surveillance system by improving early detection in all states including having the main command centre operating around-the-clock, and stock-piling anti-viral drugs at its pharmacies.
He advised people, especially those travelling during the school holidays, to take extra precautions. Meanwhile, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said 10 patients tested positive for the A(H1N1) flu last week.