Life-saving law

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

IF PASSED, a new bill in Japan that defines brain death as legal death, will enable doctors to remove organs from people who are brainclead but are still on life support machines. In Japan, a person is pronounced officially dead only if his heart stops beating. It is impossible to carry out heart and li'ver transplants once the heart stops beating. Orga-n transplants are not allowed because of religious concerns over respect for the bodies of the dead. This has forced Japanese patients to go abroad for transplant operations.

A large number of patients have died as they were unable to go abroad for transplants. A survey carried out in 1995 found that out of 558 childrek' under 18, who had required heart transplants during the previous five years, 348 had died and just 25 went abroad to receive treatment. The new bill has been passed by the lower house of Japan's parliament and will reach the upper house only after the summer recess. Many politicians are opposed to the proposed law, including former Prime Minister Yasuhiro, Nakasone who says, "Parliament is overstepping its bounds to say that a person is dead when the brainwaves stop."

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