Life Studies Blog (Old)

January 29, 2003

I will Transform Myself into the Organs and Come to Meet You

I am going to join a bioethics conference that will be held at Kyoto University in March. Scholars from Case Western Reserve University, USA, and Japanese clinical ethics specialists will have a discussion on various cases. The case I have in mind is as follows.

Case: Brain death and organ transplantation

A 17-year-old woman had a traffic accident and was sent to a hospital. She was diagnosed "clinical brain dead." In Japan, both a donor card and family consent are necessary in order to perform "legal diagnosis of brain death" and organ transplantation. The girl had a donor card. A year ago, the girl had said to her mother, "I have had a donor card. If I become brain dead and transplantation is successful, I will change myself into the organs and I will come to meet you. I am not sure how the person who would have my organs will come to meet you. The person may ask you the way, or ask you some money at a convenient store. In that case, please be kind to the person because the person is me." Even after the doctor explained about brain death to the mother and father, they continued believing that their clinically brain dead daughter was still alive because her body was warm and her heart was beating. The mother loved her daughter and wanted to respect her daughter's will to donate. However, giving consent means, for the mother, to "kill" her daughter who were still alive in the state of brain death. She couldn't make any decisions. She murmured that this was a hell on earth. The father, too, experienced great hardships and continued vomiting at home. In such a case, how can physicians and nurses support their decision-making and provide mental care for them? (This case is based on a true story occurred in 1999).

What do you think about this? (See
Two Aspects of Brain Dead Being)

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