Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Child Organ Transplant Under New Law

"The Japan Organ Transplant Network said Tuesday a child under the age of 15 was declared brain dead earlier in the day, in the nation's first such case under the revised Organ Transplant Law.

"The declaration was made at 7:37 a.m. Tuesday for a boy in the 10-to-14 age range who had been at a hospital in the Kanto-Koshinetsu region after a traffic accident, the network said. Several of the boy's organs will be transplanted at Osaka University Hospital and four other medical institutions, it added.

"The boy is set to become the first brain-dead donor aged under 15 in line with the revised law that took effect in July to allow organ transplants from brain-dead people aged under 15.

"According to the organization, the boy was taken to the hospital after suffering serious head injuries in the traffic accident. On Monday morning, three members of the boy's family were informed by his chief doctor and a transplant coordinator that his brain was highly likely to have lost most of its functions. His family then gave consent to donate his organs.

"Based on the law, the patient's first brain-death diagnosis was made at 8:25 p.m. Monday and a second, confirmatory diagnosis was made Tuesday morning, the organization said.

"The hospital's abuse prevention panel confirmed there was no physical abuse of the boy involved in this case as required by law, it added.

"The organs scheduled to be donated are heart, lung, liver, pancreas and kidney. An operation to harvest the organs was set to be carried out beginning 5 a.m. Wednesday.

""Our son told us he wants to do a job that would be of great service to society," his parents said in a statement that was read by Juntaro Ashikari, the network's medical section head, at a press conference Tuesday. "His wish didn't come true as his brain didn't recover. But his body hung in there with all the strength he had left. We've all agreed this is an action that would suit him. If parts of his body continue to live on in someone else, we feel it will offer a small measure of comfort in the grief we feel at losing him."

"Under the revised law, organ donations from brain-dead patients aged under 15 are allowed with the consent of their families unless the child had previously clearly expressed a will to refuse to donate organs. In this case, the boy did not leave any instructions about organ donation before he died.

"The law also requires institutions harvesting organs from such brain-dead children to confirm the children were not victims of physical abuse.

"The revisions to the law were prompted by new guidelines set by the World Health Organization last year that call on people to receive organ transplants in their own countries rather than overseas. However, whether the number of organ donations from brain-dead children will rise is in doubt, as determining whether children's brain deaths were caused by abuse is difficult and many hospitals are not yet capable of handling organ donations from children.

"Soichiro Kitamura, president emeritus of the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, said: "Children account for more than half the patients who have had organ transplants overseas. If child patients come to be able to receive organs from children [in Japan], that would be socially significant.""

By Yomiuri Shimbun (4/13/2011), Link to article (last visited 4/13/2011)

1 comment:

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