Kota Kinabalu: Consultant Nephrologist and Physician, Dr Ken Wu of Damai Specialist Hospital, has advised the people “not to go to China or any other country for unregulated kidney transplant.”
Speaking at a membership dinner gathering of the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu Pearl, Dr Wu said: “Promise me you will not go to the black market in China or other countries for kidney transplant. You might give me a lot of headache when you come back. You might have all kinds of infection and problems if you were not assessed properly while seeking treatment abroad.
“However, the issue is not about the country or kidney transplant but whether it is regulated or unregulated. I can tell you all kinds of success stories but I can also tell you gory stories,” he added.
Relating his experiences while working in a hospital in the United Kingdom, Dr Wu said he encountered many cases of South Asians who had earlier gone to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for kidney transplant because they had distant relatives there.
“They came back with tremendous problems for us. They stayed in the hospital for months and some of them even died because they had all kinds of infection. Some of them, I would say, were very daring and took the flight back to the UK despite their raw surgical wounds,” he shared. In his presentation on the Causes of Kidney Failure, Dr Wu advised the public against taking tablets that they do not know, to avoid complications like kidney failure.
“You should be wary of drugs like ponstan and buprofen, to name a few, unknown drugs, unknown traditional medicines and supplements. I am not saying you can’t take these drugs but you can’t take them recklessly as such painkillers can actually destroy your kidneys if you take them regularly without being monitored. It’s OK for a short period of time.
“There were cases where people simply consumed Ponstan for a few months (for gout, migraine or period pain) without any kind of assessment, only to discover later that they had kidney failure,” he pointed out.
Citing an example, Dr Wu said there was a 30-year-old man popping painkillers (innocently) because he was in pain but after one year, he was on dialysis and subsequently underwent kidney transplant.
At this juncture, he said for the umpteenth time that kidney transplant in Malaysia does not come by easily.
The audience was reminded that the two commonest causes of kidney failure in Malaysia and western countries are hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes. Complications of diabetes include stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and blindness. “Normal blood pressure is 120/80 and 130/80 is still acceptable. But if your blood pressure is persistently above 140/90 you need to get it checked by a nurse or doctor.”
On the correlation between sodium and high blood pressure, Dr Wu said sodium is “not a good friend” as a high salt diet can lead to early onset of high blood pressure.
Answering a question, he said craving of salt can be unlearned in the sense that if we are willing to cut down on it, we won’t miss it after three to four months because we will get used to not having salt.
There is a chapter about sodium and high blood pressure in his book entitled “Life is Short- Don’t make it Shorter”, which was snapped up after his informative talk.
What is the best way to prevent diabetes? When posed this question, the participants came up with various answers like stop taking chocolates and things like that. Dr Wu’s answer is : Exercise. “If you exercise two and a half hours a week, you automatically reduce your chance of getting diabetes by 50pc.”
Quoting statistics, the consultant nephrologist said the prevalence of dialysis patients in Malaysia has increased by three-fold, from 7800 in the Year 2000 to 23,000 ten years later (2010). “And now we are seeing about 6,200 new dialysis patients every year.”
According to Dr Wu, there are two new cases of end-stage kidney failure per day in Sabah and Sarawak.
“But this figure is likely to be underestimated because there are many people in Pitas and other remote areas who may die without even knowing they had kidney failure. This is because they have no access to the services of kidney specialists.”
Against this scenario, he advocated public education and preventive measures to combat the increasing incidence of kidney failure.
The health talk was initiated by the outgoing President of the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu Pearl, Datuk Adeline Leong at the residence of President-Elect Datuk Noni Said at Taman Seri Gaya, here.
Also present were Rotary International District 3310 Governor, Philip Chong, his wife Yong Len Nyuk, Assistant Governor Iskandar Ahmad and wife Fauziah Iskandar, President of the Rotary Club of Likas Bay, Dato’ John Chee and wife Datin Annie Chee.