Kidney transplants eyed to curb rising dialysis costs

National 2 minutes, 20 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

BRUNEI is looking to do more kidney transplant operations in the future in a move to curb the rising healthcare costs of dialysis treatment.

Associate Professor Dr Jackson Tan from the Renal Services Department at the Ministry of Health (MoH) said a kidney transplant is the best option for most kidney failure patients, adding that the government has “planned to do a few” operations every year.

“Kidney transplant is always – in the majority of cases – better than being on dialysis, but obviously not everyone will be suitable,” he said in a recent interview.

In order to be suitable for a kidney transplant, the head of Nephrology Services said the patient must be well enough to undergo surgery. Older patients suffering from chronic diseases may not be deemed suitable, he added.

“If you have a successful kidney transplant then potentially life expectancy can be increased and you have a better quality of life.”

Following a successful kidney transplant, he said that patients will no longer have to experience the burden of undergoing dialysis treatment. They will also be able to return to work and be more functional in society.

Since the country’s first kidney transplant was performed in 2013, Dr Tan observed that a lot more patients were interested in the operation.

“One of the important messages we want to convey to the public is that it is possible to donate your kidney and still be able to lead a normal life, at the same time, help others come off dialysis and have a normal life too,” he said.

He also highlighted the need for more efforts towards generating interest and creating awareness about kidney transplants.

Although MoH is eyeing more kidney transplants in the long term, Dr Tan said it will be dependent on how many patients are ready for the operation. He said their utmost priority is safety as well as to ensure a good outcome.

“It’s not something that we want to force... We don’t want to speed up (the process) just for the sake of doing a kidney transplant,” he said.

Health Minister Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof said the number of end-stage kidney disease patients increased from 620 in 2012 to 698 last year.

At the Brunei Nephrology Symposium last week, he said the escalating number of patients has placed a burden on healthcare resources, the patients’ families and community.

The government spent $15.1 million on dialysis treatment in 2014, whilst medication cost $8 million. Official statistics also showed that diabetes mellitus was the most common cause of end-stage renal disease with a prevalence of 50.6 per cent.

Of the 698 kidney patients, 606 have undergone haemodialysis treatment, 53 were under peritoneal dialysis and 39 have undergone kidney transplants.

The Brunei Times