Monday, June 15, 2009

Children can't get organ donations in Japan, because they can't be deceased donors

Even organ donation can be regarded as repugnant.
CNN reports on a Boy not allowed to get life-saving transplant in Japan.

""We were told by his doctor at the end of last year that the heart transplant operation was the only way for him to survive," Ando said.
But the law in Japan prohibits anyone under the age of 15 from donating organs -- meaning Hiroki can't get a new heart in his home country.
According to the web site for Japan Transplant Network, a non-governmental group that supports changing Japan's transplant law, "this stipulation has greatly reduced the possibility of transplants to small children; heart transplants to small children have become impossible."
Lawmaker Taro Kono is spearheading efforts to change the law, which was enacted in 1997. Japan's parliament is now debating four proposed amendments-- including one that would scrap the age limit. "

It appears that the thought of a child dying and having his or her organs transplanted is so distressing that it's against the law; it's considered a repugnant transaction. But because small children can't receive adult hearts, which are too big, this repugnance leads to the deaths of other children.

The boy in question still has a chance:

"Hiroki is now at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, awaiting a new heart. His father says he knows that the transplant issue is a difficult one for families.
"The honest wish from the recipient's side is to have a donor show up as soon as possible," he said, pausing. "I still do not know whether I can make a decision to give my child's heart to someone else if I am faced with such a situation. But unless the people face the issue and think about it seriously, I do not think the time will come soon to see more people volunteering to donate organs."

That last quote is worth re-reading, as it captures a lot of the pathos on both sides of the transplantation transaction, in which one tragic death can sometimes save other lives.

If you aren't already registered as a deceased organ donor (i.e. as someone who is willing to have your organs donated if they can be used after your death), please think about registering now. If you live in the United States, you can often find the form on the website of your State Department of Motor Vehicles, since registration as an organ donor is often done when you get your driver's license.


YCL said...

Info here

Registration here

Unknown said...

If you want to donate your organs to other registered organ donors, check out LifeSharers at If you donate your organs through your motor vehicle department, there's about a 50% chance your organs will be given to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die.