• Kyodo News

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The family of a brain-dead woman gave consent for her organs to be donated, marking the third case in which a family has made the decision for a patient who did not express an intention to donate in writing, a transplant coordination group said Sunday.

The patient in her 50s was declared brain dead at 5:41 a.m. Sunday at a hospital in the Tokai region centered on Nagoya due to damage to her brain’s blood vessels, said the Japan Organ Transplant Network, the only entity certified as an intermediary for organ transplants in Japan.

Members of her family said they had never talked about organ donation with the patient but hoped that donating her organs would help someone else.

The woman’s doctor had earlier informed her family about the option of donating her organs and told them Saturday she might be certified as brain dead, the JOTN said.

The family, including the father, elder brother and elder sister, then asked for more information about organ donation and met with a JOTN coordinator before making their decision.

JOTN said it used the patient’s health insurance card and its own registration system to confirm that the patient did not express any opposition to organ donation.

The woman’s organs are scheduled to be transplanted to patients at four medical facilities — the heart and lungs at Tohoku University Hospital in Sendai, the liver at Osaka University Hospital, a kidney and the pancreas at Nagoya Daini Red Cross Hospital and the other kidney at Fujita Health University Hospital near Nagoya, the network said.

In the first case of family consent under the revised transplant law which went into force in July, a man in his 20s who was pronounced brain dead on Aug. 9 had verbally told his family of his willingness to donate his organs.

But in the second case, the decision to donate was made solely by the family of the patient, identified by the network only as “a man aged 18 or over,” who was declared brain dead on Thursday.

The original transplant law, enforced in 1997, required a donor to be at least 15 years old and to have expressed his or her wishes regarding organ donation in writing. It was revised in 2009 to smooth the way for transplantation from brain-dead donors.

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