Taro Kono, a lawmaker of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, has drafted legislation to lift the ban on children under 15 becoming organ donors after being declared brain dead, according to LDP sources.
The draft says organs “may be donated only with the consent of the bereaved family, regardless of (the donor’s) age, unless that person has expressed his or her wish to refuse donation.”
Kono, who gave part of his liver to his father, former Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, in April last year, is a member of the LDP research council on brain death, life ethics and organ transplants.
The bill will be presented to a working group of the council for deliberation as early as this week.
The current Organ Transplant Law requires that potential donors express their intent in writing to be an organ donor. The law stipulates that a person must be at least 15 years old — the minimum age a person may be a testator under the Civil Code — to be legally responsible for making such a decision.
Some parents in Japan have taken their children abroad for organ transplant operations, particularly heart transplants. Twenty-two children under 18 went abroad for heart transplant operations between 1997, when the transplant law went into effect, and last summer.
Patient advocacy groups in Japan have been calling for revisions to the transplant law to make it possible for children under 15 to become organ donors.
The Japan Pediatric Society issued a statement on Monday backing the proposal.
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