Heart Transplant Planned in Japan

<i> Reuters</i>

Japanese doctors prepared today to carry out the nation’s first heart transplant in 31 years.

The potential donor, a 44-year-old woman who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, would be the nation’s first organ donor legally defined as brain-dead under a 1997 law.

The donor’s heart, lungs, liver and kidneys will be quickly transplanted in recipients selected by the Japan Organ Transplant Network.

The woman was declared clinically brain-dead, health ministry officials said today, adding that her family gave consent.


The 1997 organ transplant law, passed after years of debate on the subject of brain-death and organ transplants, states that an unequivocal statement expressing one’s wish to donate organs would be necessary before organ extraction could be carried out.

Japan’s last heart transplant, which was carried out in 1968, led to murder charges against the doctor. A court dismissed the charges, but the case fostered suspicion among the public about the ethics of Japan’s medical profession.