Woman becomes nation’s sixth organ donor

Doctors at Kyoto University Hospital on Sunday afternoon performed surgery to transplant the liver of a brain-dead woman in her 40s into a patient at the hospital.

The liver arrived at the Kyoto hospital at around 5:30 p.m. after it was removed from the brain-dead woman at a hospital in Akita Prefecture earlier in the day. The transplant operation at Kyoto was expected to end at midnight on Sunday.

On Sunday morning, teams of doctors from various medical institutions, including the Kyoto hospital, arrived at Yuri Kumiai General Hospital in Honjo, Akita Prefecture, to assess the woman’s organs.

Officials of the Japan Organ Transplant Network said the liver of the woman, who was pronounced brain-dead Saturday, would go to Kyoto University Hospital and be transplanted into a woman in her 30s who is suffering from congenital liver and bile duct disease.

The network had selected potential recipients of her lungs and heart, but these organs were deemed unsuitable for transplanting, the network officials said.

The liver was transferred Sunday afternoon by helicopter to the Kyoto hospital, where surgeons began transplanting it immediately.

The woman was confirmed legally brain-dead on Saturday. She became the sixth organ donor in Japan under the 1997 Organ Transplant Law.

She underwent two tests six hours apart starting early Saturday and was confirmed brain-dead at 3:03 p.m. according to the provisions of the law, officials of the Japan Organ Transplant Network said.

The woman, who was being treated at the hospital for a brain hemorrhage, had indicated her willingness on an organ donor card to donate her lungs, liver and kidneys for transplant in the event of brain death, the officials said. Her family approved the donation and the brain-death testing procedure, they said.

She is the sixth organ donor in Japan under the 1997 Organ Transplant Law, which legalized transplants from brain-dead donors.

Organs including hearts and livers from two women and three men confirmed brain-dead at hospitals in Kochi, Tokyo, Miyagi and Osaka prefectures have been provided to 22 recipients since the law took effect in October 1997.