A man waiting for a kidney transplant but who was declared brain dead became a donor himself Sunday when his pancreas was transplanted in accordance with his wishes, medical sources said.

It is the first time in Japan that a person who had been hoping for a transplant became a donor, according to the Japan Organ Transplant Network, which arranges transplants.

The man, in his 50s, was admitted to Kagoshima City Hospital due to a brain hemorrhage and was pronounced brain dead Saturday afternoon.

His pancreas was removed early Sunday and transported by plane to Osaka University where in the afternoon doctors transplanted it into a diabetic man in his 30s.

The diabetic man had received a pancreas and kidney from another brain dead donor in 2001. But the pancreas was later removed due to thrombosis and he had since been waiting for another transplant.

He is probably the first patient in Japan to receive an organ transplant from brain dead donors twice, according to Osaka University.

It is the 26th time that an organ has been transplanted from a brain-dead donor under the organ transplant law that took effect in October 1997.

The donor had been suffering chronic kidney failure.

While waiting for a transplant, the man began carrying a donor card expressing his wish to offer his pancreas and other organs at about the same time that he started undergoing dialysis, the transplant network said.

According to the sources, doctors decided that the man’s heart, lungs and liver were not transferable, but his eyes will be donated.

Koichi Uetsuhara, deputy head of Kagoshima City Hospital, said the man’s blood pressure and other conditions were unstable after he fell into a state of brain death, so a mandatory test to legally declare him brain dead carried a risk of stopping his heart as well.

However, the hospital went ahead with the test at the urgent request of the man’s family, who said he strongly desired that his organs be donated if he became brain dead, Uetsuhara told a news conference.

“Normally, we do not disclose medical information on an organ donor, such as the fact that he was receiving dialysis, but his family also requested that this be made known,” Uetsuhara said. “I guess the family wanted the public to know that a number of patients are waiting for organ transplants.”

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