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
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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