Transplants using organs harvested from a brain-dead donor began at several hospitals Tuesday after the man’s family gave its consent the previous day in the first such case under the revised transplant law.
The revision allows transplants in the absence of prior written consent from a donor if approval of the family is obtained.
The donor, a man in his 20s who was involved in a traffic accident in Chiba Prefecture, was officially declared brain dead at a hospital in the Kanto region on Monday. His family agreed to donate his organs, saying that although he hadn’t consented in writing, he had voiced such wishes, according to the Japan Organ Transplant Network.
An operation to provide the man’s heart to a recipient began upon its arrival shortly past 6:30 a.m. Tuesday at a national institute in Osaka, after doctors began at 3:14 a.m. to harvest the man’s organs at a hospital in the Kanto region.
The organ transplant law, when it was first enforced in 1997, required a donor to have expressed his or her wishes regarding organ donation in writing, but the revised law enforced on July 17 relaxed the condition and enables organs to be harvested with the consent of the family unless the person left instructions to the contrary.
The heart left the Kanto hospital at around 5 a.m. and was airlifted by helicopter and then chartered plane to the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center Research Institute in Osaka, accompanied by a team of surgeons from the institute.
The recipient is a man in his 20s with hypertrophic heart disease.
Vehicles carrying containers for other organs also left the Kanto hospital.
Another man in his 20s is to receive both the dead man’s lungs at Okayama University Hospital in the city of Okayama.
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