OSAKA — Organ transplant experts Sept. 16 called for more public understanding and support for the procedure in Japan, saying it will not become widespread unless people have strong trust in medical professionals.
They stressed the importance of disclosing the creation of criteria for selecting recipients, choice of hospitals that perform transplants and other decisions related to the establishment of a nationwide organ transplant network so that the entire process can be more open and transparent.
The remarks were made at the opening of a three-day annual meeting of the Japan Society for Transplantation, the first held after the Diet passed a bill in June authorizing organ transplants from brain-dead donors.
The law, which will take effect next month, states that an organ can be removed from a brain-dead person only when the patient has given prior written consent to donate organs and has been diagnosed as brain dead. Yuichi Iwaki, director of transplantation immunology at the University of Southern California’s School of Medicine, said the United Network for Organ Sharing in the United States sets fairness and disclosure as its principles.
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, head of Tokai University’s School of Medicine, said it is difficult to make such a network operate properly and fairly in Japan, because only 370 patients managed to receive kidney transplants after a transplantation network for kidneys was created 2 1/2 years ago. In the U.S., some 7,000 cases of kidney transplants are performed annually.
Kazuhiro Shigeto, deputy director of the Health and Welfare Ministry’s office of organ transplantation, said the ministry will call on other ministries to cooperate in increasing the number of donor-card holders by such means as mentioning the card’s availability when people receive driver’s licenses and health insurance cards.