• Kyodo News

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More than 80 percent of lawmakers polled support revising the organ transplant law during the current parliamentary session through June 3 to pave the way for allowing children to receive organ donations domestically, according to a Kyodo News survey released Wednesday.

Kyodo sent questionnaires to all of the 720 upper and lower house members at a time when bills to revise the law are being deliberated at the Diet, of whom 150, or 20 percent, provided valid responses.

Of the supporters of amending the law, accounting for 83 percent of the overall respondents, 72 percent said the minimum age of 15 for brain-dead donors in organ transplants should be eliminated.

As the current law bans children under 15 from becoming donors, many Japanese children who need organ transplants have to travel overseas in search of donors.

The survey also showed less than 50 percent of the lawmakers agree with recognizing brain death as legal death by revising the current law, which accepts brain death only in cases where a person is ready to become a donor. More than 30 percent want to keep the existing rule, indicating rooted resistance to recognizing brain death as legal death without exception.

Several proposals for revising the organ transplant law have been submitted to the Diet, among which a bill to legalize brain death as a rule and to eliminate the minimum age for becoming an organ donor drew 61 percent support among the respondents, according to the Kyodo survey.

The response rate to the survey was only around 20 percent, indicating many lawmakers are still grappling with the issue, which is closely related to religious and other views about life.

During the last 12 years since the current law became effective in 1997, around 100,000 patients have died as they could not receive organ transplants, according to the Japan Society for Transplantation.

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