It Takes Lives to Save Lives


Author: Lee Siew Gek

SME, Science Liver transplantation involves replacing a failing or diseased liver with a new liver that is normal and healthy. At this time, liver transplantation is the only cure for liver failure because there are no machines capable of performing all the functions of the liver.

Where do donated livers come from?

Livers for transplantation come from either a deceased or a living donor. Most donated livers come from deceased donors, often victims of severe, accident-related head injury. Either they have arranged in advance to be an organ donor or their family grants permission for organ donation when the victim is declared brain dead.

UMMC First Adult-Adult Living Donor Liver Transplant

In September 2017, the eldest brother Lim Chin Hock, donated part of his liver to his brother, Chin Heng, who was born with congenital liver disease. The first adult-adult living donor liver transplant was carried out at UMMC (Universiti Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur). The 18-hour operation was successfully performed by consultant hepatobiliary surgeon Assoc Prof Yoong Boon Koon and his team, with assistance from Hong Kong experts. UMMC is focusing on adult-to-adult living donor liver transplants and to date, the hospital has successfully conducted four adult liver transplant surgeries.

UMMC Latest Victory

Recently, UMMC has made another major breakthrough in liver transplantation. Two young children, Nur Syafiqa Damia, 10, and Idzyraf Al Sheeraz, 14 months, have been given a new lease of life after successful liver transplants carried out by surgeons from UMMC and Renji Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine. Idzyraf’s mother Aminah Izzati Hamidi, gave 30% of her liver to save her child. Nur Syafiqa’s father Romizan Alang Bahari donated 40% of his liver to her. UM deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Dr. Kamila Ghazali said UMMC is now sufficiently prepared to perform one to two cases per month.

Affordable Procedure

This step forward in liver transplantation carried out by UMMC has given new hope to patients suffering from liver diseases. Now liver transplantation can be done in Malaysia, and doctors should recommend or refer their patients for transplant within Malaysia. The cost of a liver transplant carried out at UMMC is around RM120,000 – more affordable than going overseas for the same procedure, which may cost at least RM900,000.

Biggest Setback

As many as 2,500 to 3,000 people develop end-stage liver failure every year, all of whom will benefit from a liver transplant. The number of people waiting for a liver transplant greatly exceeds the number of available donor livers. In Malaysia, only one percent of the population have signed up as organ pledgers. Assoc Prof Yoong from UMMC says “We have to increase the public awareness about the importance of donating organs. When people realise that by donating their organs they can save lives, more people will then come forward to pledge their organs. This provides hope for one percent of the estimated Malaysians who experience liver diseases every year and require a transplant.“


My brother gave me his liver

Learn more about human organs and liver from our lesson.