Following criticism that protection of privacy was lacking when organs were donated in late February in the nation’s first legal transplants involving a brain-dead patient, cautious steps have been taken to avoid an excessive release of information on the second such donor.
Almost no personal details of the donor have been released to the press. “The patient is a man in his 30s, and he was declared legally brain dead at 3:25 a.m.,” Health and Welfare Ministry officials said in a statement Wednesday morning.
When Yukio Asaura, head of the ministry’s organ transplant section, and Japan Organ Transplant Network official Tatsuro Mori faced reporters at 5 a.m., both looked exhausted and spoke in low tones. “We hope the soul of the patient rests in peace, and we extend our deepest sympathy to the bereaved,” Asaura said ahead of reading out a statement regarding the time of the patient’s death.
Although reporters asked repeated questions regarding the organs to be donated and other details, the pair refused to answer, saying the donor’s family had not consented to releasing such information and that such details were personal.
In response to concerns that such a stance would cast doubt on the transparency of the organ donation process, Asaura acknowledged it is “a difficult problem.”
“The patient’s privacy is the most important issue. (In the first brain-death case) in Kochi, the privacy of the patient and her family sadly was not secured.”
The Health and Welfare Ministry and the Japan Organ Transplant Network called on the media the same day to refrain from contacting the family of a brain-dead patient.
At a news conference early Wednesday morning, ministry officials explained that the request came from the patient’s hospital.
The hospital maintained that the large media turnout at its entrance was affecting its treatment of outpatients, and also asked that reporters stay off its premises, they said.
In addition, the transplant network called on reporters to not enter its office in order to avoid affecting the selection procedure for organ recipients.