Rare instance of organ donation in Japan highlights shortage of donors

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 27 November 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5081
  1. Chana Schoenberger
  1. 1Tokyo

A woman in her 20s made headlines in Japan on 23 November after she became only the 82nd brain dead person to provide organs for donation despite a new law introduced in 1997 which was intended to boost transplant numbers.

The woman was declared brain dead in a hospital on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on 22 November. Her heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and intestine were donated the next day to patients at hospitals around Japan, from Osaka to Nagoya. Her corneas are awaiting transplantation.

Japan has drawn criticism for its low rates of organ transplantation and a legal structure that has made it difficult for patients to donate and receive organs. Although the country carried …

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