Education on live kidney donation vital

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) was heartened by the report on the oldest living kidney donor in Singapore (Dad donates kidney to son - at age 79; March 21).

Unlike a healthy kidney, dialysis cannot replace 100 per cent of a kidney's functions. A transplant provides kidney failure patients with the best chance of long-term survival and improved quality of life, in particular living-donor transplants.

The transplanted kidney can substitute almost fully the lost functions of the failed kidneys and it usually begins to function right away, thus allowing the patient to lead a normal life.

Studies have shown that the five-year patient survival rate for living-donor transplants is 96.7 per cent, compared with 61.3 per cent for dialysis patients.

Transplants before starting dialysis or within the first two years of dialysis are the most successful.

Hence, the NKF reaches out to new patients and their family members through kidney transplant awareness and educational talks.

As part of our multi-pronged approach, we also have the NKF's Kidney Live Donor Support Fund, which provides financial assistance to needy live donors.

We are currently reviewing the funding coverage so that we can better address the unmet needs of kidney donors.

Kidney transplant recipients and donors can generally draw on MediShield Life and Medisave for hospital bills and selected outpatient treatments at restructured hospitals. Needy Singaporeans can seek further assistance from Medifund.

For more information on kidney disease prevention, the public can call the NKF hotline at 1800-Kidneys (1800-543-6397), or visit www.nkfs.org.

Tim Oei