移植法衆院通過 臓器提供の拡大へ踏み出した

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 19, 2009)
Vote a step forward for more organ donations
移植法衆院通過 臓器提供の拡大へ踏み出した(6月19日付・読売社説)

Current rules place tight restrictions on organ transplants in Japan, often forcing Japanese to travel abroad to receive transplants. This has to stop.

Thursday's vote in the House of Representatives signifies that many lawmakers recognize this fact and intend to expand opportunities for organ donations within Japan.

The lower house scheduled votes on four different bills in a plenary session on Thursday to revise the Organ Transplant Law. Plan A--which clears the way for more organ transplants within the country--passed the lower house.

With the exception of the Japanese Communist Party, which decided to abstain from voting, each party allowed its lawmakers to vote freely on the bills. Lawmakers therefore voted according to their own beliefs.

Of the 430 votes cast in the lower house, 263 were for Plan A, easily exceeding the 167 votes against it. With the approval of Plan A, voting for the remaining three proposals was called off.


More in line with WHO

Plan A recognizes brain death as legal death per se and stipulates that if a person has not given clear permission to undergo a brain-death diagnosis or to become an organ donor if declared brain-dead, the decision will be entrusted to that person's family.

This is almost the same as the World Health Organization's guiding principles as well as the organ transplant laws of other major industrialized nations.

The nation's current Organ Transplant Law is the strictest in the world regarding the conditions for becoming an organ donor. Firstly, it requires a brain-dead person to have left in writing his or her intention to donate, such as in the form of an organ donor card. Even with this, however, organ donation can still be stopped if the family of the brain-dead person opposes it.

As a result, only 81 transplants using organs from brain-dead persons have been carried out in the about 12 years since the current Organ Transplant Law came into force in October 1997. In contrast, several thousand organ transplants are conducted in the United States every year, and several hundred in major European nations.


Allow access for children

Under the Civil Code, the will to donate organs is legally recognized only when a donor is aged 15 or older. Therefore, organ transplants for infants and young children within the country are practically impossible due to the differences in organ sizes from donor to recipient.

This has resulted in a constant stream of Japanese children being taken overseas to receive organ transplants, often after their parents have made pleas for funds. Japanese adults also have gone abroad for operations, with some seeking organ transplants in China, where it is said that most organs come from executed criminals. Other nations have criticized Japan for these circumstances.

Plan A--which enables organ donation through family consent--also scraps the age limit for organ donation, which means young children will be able to receive transplants in Japan. Organ donations from adults also are expected to increase significantly.

One of the three bills that did not make it to vote would have partially eased conditions on organ donation, including those aged 14 or younger only being allowed to donate with family consent. However, it is difficult to fundamentally change the current situation.

Deliberations on the bill to revise the Organ Transplant Law will move on to the House of Councillors. There also is a move to seek the submission of a new proposal.

This is a difficult issue involving viewpoints on life and death, but we cannot delay any longer in reaching a decision.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2009)
(2009年6月19日01時48分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-06-19 08:57 | 英字新聞

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