Thursday, August 12, 2010

Organ Transplantation Law and Brain Death

"Under the revised law on organ transplantation that went into full effect on July 17, organs of people declared brain-dead may be donated with the consent of family members even if the intent of the patient is unknown.

"On Tuesday, organs were contributed under the provisions of this new legislation for the first time.

"The donor, a man in his 20s, was confirmed brain-dead on Monday due to injuries suffered in a traffic accident. His heart, lungs, liver and other organs were harvested for transplantation into patients who had been waiting for such donations.

"Under the previous law, organ donations required the consent of the donor in writing. With the amended version, the final decision is left to the family unless the brain-dead person had specifically expressed opposition to the use of his or her organs.

"According to the Japan Organ Transplant Network, Japan's only organization for coordinating organ transplantation, the man expressed the desire to donate his organs while watching a television program on that subject with his family. The family decided to have his organs donated after weighing the wishes he voiced at that time.

"This is welcome news for patients waiting for organ donations. The family, however, must have had an extremely difficult time reaching the decision in the absence of the man's written consent.

"We must respect the sentiment of these family members and firmly support their decision.

"At the same time, we hope this precious experience can also be used effectively to realize more medical transplantations.

"In this particular case, the fact that family members discussed organ transplantation apparently made it easier to hypothesize what choice the man would have made. There is no doubt, however, that cases devoid of such clues will emerge in the future.

"As a reference for such instances, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare must thoroughly examine and verify this case, and disclose its findings to the greatest degree possible.

"Under the revised transplant law, physicians are required to inform family members of the organ donation option in the event that a loved one is declared brain-dead.

"In this case, how and when was the family informed of this alternative? What process did they go through to reach the decision to donate the man's organs?

"To establish a truly reliable medical transplantation system, it is crucial to uphold full transparency and not bottle up the process behind closed doors. While respecting the family's wishes for solitude, as well as the right for privacy, every reasonable effort must be made to clarify what happened in this case.

"Prompted by this example, the general public must have become more aware of the heavy responsibilities of family members.

"The issues include whether to donate organs and what choices best reflect the wishes of potential donors. There will be cases when such decisions must be rendered amid intense sorrow, even if based solely on conjecture.

"Firm knowledge of what the person in question desired will ease the psychological burden of family members. Toward that end, daily conversations about such subjects, as well as recording one's desires in writing whenever possible, may be very wise approaches.

"The upcoming Bon holiday break is a period when families, including grandparents in many cases, gather for vacations or other activities. This could be an excellent opportunity to discuss the recent transplant case, and consider the preferred course of action if such a situation occurs within one's own family unit."

Asahi Shimbun (Editorial, 8/11/2010), Link to article (last visited 8/12/2010)

1 comment:

used construction equipment said...

Organs and tissues that are transplanted within the same person's body are called autografts.