A health ministry committee on Wednesday decided to ban organ donations from people who have spent six months or more in some European countries since 1980.

The move is aimed at preventing Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease from spreading, the committee said.

The panel under the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s Health Sciences Council said people who have stayed in any of seven European countries, including Britain, Germany and France, will be excluded as donors. The ministry followed by issuing a notice backing the panel’s decision.

Transplant surgeons and representatives of patients who need organ transplants opposed the committee’s decision at the meeting, pointing to a current organ shortage.

However, Tetsuyuki Kitamoto, a doctor and professor of Tohoku University, noted that those who have stayed six months or more in Europe are already excluded from donating blood in Japan.

“If we make a wrong decision, the mistake may effect patients for 50 years from now,” he said.

The ministry accepted the committee’s decision, saying the state might be sued if a patient is infected by CJD through an organ transplant.

The committee also decided at the meeting to simplify the procedure for ensuring that organ donations are conducted properly.

It also added that the ministry should assign psychiatric experts to consult with potential donors.

CJD is a rare, fatal brain disorder that causes rapid, progressive dementia and associated neuromuscular disturbances.

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