The family of a brain-dead man who donated his heart and kidneys earlier this week also allowed doctors to remove his skin for future surgical needs, officials at the Tokyo Skin Bank Network said Thursday.
According to an official at the network, the family was informed of the procedure involving skin donation Wednesday, while surgery to remove the man’s organs was being performed. Family members then agreed to donating his skin, the official said.
Doctors from Keio University and Kyorin University then performed the two-hour operation after his kidneys were harvested, and removed 50 sheets of skin tissue each about the size of a postcard. The skin will be frozen and used to treat patients with severe burns. Network officials said they would be willing to provide this tissue to medical institutions nationwide, and that about 10 to 15 people could be saved with the man’s skin.
Skin donations are not covered by the Organ Transplant Law, and the Health and Welfare Ministry says it is possible to harvest skin tissue with family consent.
In a related event, Defense Agency chief Hosei Norota indicated during Diet deliberations Thursday that Self-Defense Force aircraft may be used to help transport organs for transplant operations.
Speaking before the Lower House Security Committee, Norota said he would work with the Health and Welfare Ministry and review the legal framework regarding transport procedure so that the SDF could be helpful in such cases.
Civil transportation is now used based on the principle that the organ transplant is for personal benefit. If that is not possible, helicopters owned by municipal governments and rescue teams are used.
The SDF Law stipulates that SDF transport cannot be used unless the central or local governments make a formal request. But transporting organs is a life-saving action, and in that context the ministry will look into ways it can cooperate, Norota said.