I congratulate the transplant team at Bangkok's King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital for performing its first kidney transplant across blood types, which is commonly referred to as ABO-incompatible kidney transplant ("Breakthrough kidney surgery in Thailand"; Thursday).
The report, from Thailand's The Nation newspaper, said that the transplant was the first such operation performed in the Asean region.
Actually, the first ABO-incompatible kidney transplant performed in the Asean region was done in Singapore, at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, in May 2008 ("Their blood types don't match, but he's getting her kidney"; May 4, 2008).
Subsequently, the first ABO-incompatible kidney transplant performed in the public sector was at the National University Hospital, in September 2009 ("Getting her body to accept his kidney"; Oct 10, 2009).
This was shortly followed by another ABO-incompatible kidney transplant at the Singapore General Hospital in December 2009.
The first ABO-incompatible kidney transplant in Malaysia was performed in July 2011.
Since 2008, more than 50 ABO-incompatible kidney transplants have been performed in Singapore, allowing patients with end-stage kidney failure greater access to transplantation ("Incompatible blood type kidney transplants set to rise"; July 1, 2013).
However, due to greater risks of complications such as rejection and higher healthcare costs, ABO-incompatible kidney transplants should be considered only if there are no compatible living kidney donors and options for paired kidney donor exchange are not possible.
Transplant centres in Singapore have the expertise and technologies to offer kidney transplants to patients whose living kidney donors have incompatible tissue and blood types.
Unfortunately, living kidney donor transplant rates in Singapore remain very low because of a lack of willing living kidney donors.
We hope that more will be done to improve acceptance of living kidney donor transplantation among patients and the community.
Terence Kee (Dr)
Society of Transplantation (Singapore)