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Monday, October 25, 2010

A very meaningful week

Last week was the National Organ Donation Awareness Week 2010. It was a week to remember, at least for me. I attended five of the many events held in conjunction of this inaugural remembrance of those who have donated their organs in saving other people's lives.

I have been involved with organ donation campaigns from 1999 when I was working at the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM). My involvement started off as a work assignment, and hence I approached organ donation in a very academic way. However, over the years, my conviction on the importance of organ donation has increased, more so when I met Muhammad Fikri Norazmi in 2005. His story is well-known, just Google up his name and you will get more information on him.

Since then, even after leaving IKIM, I am still involved with organ donation programmes out of sheer interest. It is no longer a work-related assignment for me, rather it is now a cause that I am voluntarily involved in.

During the launch of the National Organ Donation Awareness Week at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa by the Hon. Minister of Health, I was caught by surprise when I was presented with a certificate of appreciation conferred by the ministry. I was informed initially that I was to receive the certificate on behalf of the organisation that I am currently attached to, but when I got there, I realised that I was one of three individuals being acknowledged by the ministry for our involvement in organ donation programmes. It goes without saying that I am humbled by this acknowledgement and would like to record my sincerest gratitude to the National Transplant Resource Centre and the Ministry of Health.

On a personal basis, my involvement has been nothing more than just to provide information on the permissibility of organ donation in particular from the Islamic perspective. This is nothing compared to the sacrifice made by donor families in allowing for their loved ones' organs to be harvested in order to save the lives of total strangers who are in need. I am fortunate to be able to partake in "Bicara Hati" which is the climax to the National Organ Donation Awareness Week held at the National Heart Institute (IJN) last Saturday. The programme gathered nearly 50 donor families from all over the country as well some of the organ recipients who have benefited from organ donation.

"Bicara Hati" was, to say the least, an emotional tribute to the donor families. At the lobby of IJN, whilst rain was pouring heavily outside, donor family members shared stories of their loved ones, while recipients expressed their appreciation to the organ donors. It was difficult not to shed a tear that very meaningful afternoon. The programme ended with a tribute to the late Winnie Chen, who herself was waiting for a heart, but instead lost her life waiting. Instead, she became a donor herself.

I would like to go on record in applauding the Ministry of Health and the National Transplant Resource Centre for organising this awareness week. It has been announced that the week will be an annual event. I hope that in the coming years, the week will be filled with meaningful programmes that can touch people's hearts in creating awareness and understanding on the importance of organ donation.

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