Martin Rinyeb, who made history when he received his brother's kidney on Dec. 15, 1975, died on March 25 after being bitten by a cat two days earlier, the New Straits Times reported.
"And we thought he would die of kidney failure," Rinyeb's wife, Diken Dolem, was quoted as saying.
The Times did not say why the news was reported more than two months late. Dolem or other family members could not be immediately contacted.
Rinyeb, 61, was watching television on March 23 when a stray cat entered his house, Dolem was quoted as saying.
"The cat suddenly went up to Rinyeb and bit him on the right ankle," she said. The ankle swelled up the next day and he felt feverish and nauseous. The following day he went to hospital where he died in the evening.
"I was shocked to hear of his death," said Dr. Hussein Awang, an Australian-trained urologist who led a 12-member team in transplanting the kidney into Rinyeb, Malaysia's first such surgery.
"I knew the operation was successful ... when we attached the kidney and straight away saw the urine coming out. There was much excitement," Hussein was quoted as saying.
Since that historic day, more than 1,000 kidney transplants have been performed in Malaysia, 107 of those by Dr. Hussein, the Times said.
Doctors had told Rinyeb that the transplanted kidney, donated by his younger brother Augustine Sitin, would last between 10 and 15 years.
But Rinyeb, a native of Sarawak state on Borneo Island, continued to lead a healthy life for more than 30 years after the transplant.
He is survived by his wife, five children and three grandchildren, the Times said.