Bill would allow organs from brain-dead donors

A bill to pave the way for the legal donation of organs from brain-dead patients was submitted Mar. 18 to the Lower House, almost three years after the original bill related to the issue was introduced. Deliberations on the bill start Mar. 19 at the Lower House Health and Welfare Committee.

The newly introduced bill, sponsored by a nonpartisan group of about 50 lawmakers, states that brain death should be considered legal death and that the transplantation of organs from brain-dead donors should be allowed only when written consent from the donor has been given. The original bill, which stated that the consent of the donor’s family would suffice, was submitted to the Diet in April 1994, after an ad hoc advisory body to the government concluded that brain death constitutes legal death. But due to the sensitive nature of the issue, the original bill was scrapped without any deliberations.

A partly revised version of the original bill was submitted to the Diet last year, but was scrapped again in September following the dissolution of the House of Representatives. Some medical experts have criticized the new bill, saying its passage would not effectively lead to more available organs for transplants because there is currently no standard system for citizens to provide written consent.