Regarding the April 28 Kyodo article “Child organ transplants still face hurdles“: The under-age transplant law is a big step forward in children’s health in Japan. It is a shame that children would have to die when there are organs available that could help them. The law has potential to waste viable organs, though.
Not using organs of children known to have been victims of child-abuse seems to me to be absurd. The logic of the government seems to be that parents could conceal abuse by offering their children for organ donation, but if these children are already determined to be victims, then there is no further need to determine abuse, and the organs could save lives. Even if it is necessary to perform an autopsy, I am under the impression that one can be preformed along with organ harvesting.
I can’t believe that the question of justice for children who might have died from abuse would fall on a panel at the hospital. The investigation and realization of abuse should have happened long before the discussion of organ donation. The independent panel that would determine abuse cases should already be in place, preventing, investigating and prosecuting child-abuse.
This should be done by whoever is responsible for the protection of children. In the United States we have Child Protective Services. I don’t know what it is called, or if there is a similar agency, in Japan, but if there is not, there should be one.
In the end, this is being treated as a problem with the process to harvest organs, but really it is a problem with the process to prevent, investigate and prosecute child abusers. Justice for these children should not be left to a — as of now — nonexistent panel.
Unless I am missing something, culturally or scientifically, there is no reason that, with the consent of family, these children’s organs should not be used to save other children’s lives.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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