• Kyodo News

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The family of a brain-dead man has given consent for his organs to be donated, although the patient never expressed that intention in writing, a transplant coordination group said Thursday.

It’s the second time a family has given such approval under the revised transplant law.

In the first case earlier this month, a man who was declared brain-dead had previously told his family he was willing to donate his organs. However, in the latest case the decision was made by the family alone, a representative of the Japan Organ Transplant Network said.

Later in the day, the man’s heart, lungs, liver and other organs were removed for transplantation. His heart was shipped to a hospital in Tokyo, his lungs to a hospital in Osaka, and his liver to a Kyoto hospital.

The man was identified only as aged 18 or over and was pronounced brain-dead at 4:24 a.m. Thursday at a hospital in the Kansai region, according to the network.

Speaking at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, network representative Setsuko Konaka said the patient’s family never discussed organ donation with him.

But Konaka said the family conveyed that if his life couldn’t be saved, they “would be pleased if parts of his body continued to live” and they hoped his body might be used to help “many people, as it is healthy.”

Four or five members of his family, including his parents, gave their consent after a doctor at the hospital explained that the patient could be declared brain-dead and that donating his organs was an option, according to Konaka.

The network said it has determined after looking at the patient’s organ donor card and health insurance card as well as talking with his family that he had not expressed an intention to refuse to donate his organs.

The patient’s organs were expected to be harvested from around 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, said the network, the only organization certified as an intermediary for organ transplants in Japan.

A man in his 40s at the University of Tokyo Hospital will get his heart, his lungs will go to a man in his 20s at Osaka University Hospital and his liver to a man in his 40s at Kyoto University Hospital, it said.

One of his kidneys will go to a man in his 60s at Kobe University Hospital, and the other kidney and pancreas to a woman in her 30s at Nagoya Daini Red Cross Hospital, it said.

Although his family also approved the donation of his small intestine and eyeballs, doctors gave up plans to transplant the former “for medical reasons,” the network said.

The network did not disclose the man’s age group or cause of death at the family’s request.

In the first case earlier this month, the donor was a man in his 20s who had been in a traffic accident.

The revised transplant law allowing families to give consent cleared the Diet in July 2009 and went into force on July 17 this year.

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