Life Studies Blog (Old)

January 27, 2005

Gift of life, relay of life (by M)

Last Saturday we invited Professor Ann Mongoven (See Jan.5 and 20) to Osaka University, and we had a conference on comparative bioethics on brain death and organ transplantation. It was an informal meeting but very exciting and fruitful.

Mongoven talked about the metaphor of "gift of life", which is widely used in the USA, and that of "relay of life", which is prevalent in Japan. She asked us from when, and why, this term has been used. I couldn't answer her question because I have never thought about it, but I guess that the concept of "relay of life" might have some connection with Japanese image of "life" that is often used in connection with the image of "interrelatedness" of each life. (See my paper "
Concept of Inochi (life)".

It was intersting that just on the night of the conference day, Japanese ABC TV broadcasted a drama about the living donor liver transplant, and the subtitle of that drama included the words "relay of life". In Japan there has been very few transplants from brain dead donors, but instead, lots of liver transplants from living donors.
taka talked about living donor liver transplant in Japan and his theory of "narrative consent". This was also very interesting.

Photo: Escalator

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  • I was privileged to participate in the conference and give half-hour presentation on ethics of living donor liver transplants in Japan. The conference was held at very nice conference room with large windows where we could see trees and ponds. So nice!
    It was quite my pleasure to meet Dr. Mongoven, who happened to be a PhD. colleague of Dr. Carr, the director of biomedical-clinical ethics program at Loma Linda University where I earned MA! What a small world!
    Anyway, the conference was, as Dr. Morioka mentioned, very fruitful! I was very interested in how Dr. Mongoven got involved in this study, and impressed by the precise and careful metaphorical analysis upon American transplant policy. In fact, there were a lot to learn from her presentation that I cannot list here!

    I was very thankful to Dr. Morioka for giving me an opportunity to present a concept of what I shall call “narrative consent” which appeared to get certain interests from the audience, but, to my regret, I was not able to provide certain examples to illuminate what narrative consent was like. I am currently trying to put this presentation into a paper as soon as possible so wait for me!

    By Blogger taka, at 11:42 PM, February 01, 2005  

  • Hello, taka. Welcome to our blog! The discussion at Osaka University was very interesting. I think your research on the discourse about living donor liver transplant in Japan is worth publishing, especially the concept of "narrative consent" is unique and thought provoking. I am looking forward to your new paper.

    And probably readers of this blog would like to know your research in the field of narrative ethics and bioethics, please post your comment anytime when you come up with an interesting idea.

    By Blogger Masahiro_Morioka, at 2:23 AM, February 02, 2005  

  • I am a translator and am currently working on [translating] a book about the history of organ transplantation in Japan. I spent the last hour poring over your website, and was able to find a lot of useful background information on the subject, as well as interesting info on other subjects, as well!

    In fact, the phrase "relay of life" is used in this book, with the author going as far as comparing the donor to a runner bearing the Olympic torch.

    I expect to become a regular reader here!

    By Anonymous Jennifer, at 6:12 AM, June 12, 2005  

  • Hello, Jennifer. Thank you for your comment. Please visit here from time to time. I am going to write about organ transplantation and other related issues again (probably). By the way, what is the book you are translating (from J to E, or E to J?)? Was there a book that deals with the history of Japanese organ transplantation besides Margaret Lock's? (William LaFleur?)

    By Blogger Masahiro_Morioka, at 7:04 AM, June 12, 2005  

  • wow- thanks for the reply!
    Actually, the book I'm doing now is apparently a self-published work by one of the higher-ups at the Japan Organ Transplant Network. I guess it's more focused less on the "history" of organ transplants in general, and more on what they have done at their organization. J to E, btw.
    The more I read here, the more I feel myself getting sucked into it all, if that makes any sense. :)

    By Blogger jennifer, at 8:15 AM, June 12, 2005  

  • Thanks, Jennifer. I hope your translation will be successful. By the way, have you visited my Japanese pages for brain death and organ transplants? I believe you can find interesting information and articles there. URL is:

    Best wishes.

    By Blogger Masahiro_Morioka, at 4:57 PM, June 12, 2005  

  • Hello, Jennifer! Having worked as an E-J translator myself, I am interested in your job and work very much. Currently I am a graduate student, reseaching abortion problems and also a voluntary member of a translation project of a book about Japan's MIZUKO-KUYO, a ritual for aborted fetuses. Mine is a little bit different but similar subject as far as it concerns people's way of thinking about life and death. Let's exchange our images and ideas about those topics here! Please keep in touch.

    By Anonymous Coo, at 5:22 PM, June 12, 2005  

  • Hi Coo! Nice to read your comments. Although I don't know much past the surface, I have always found the practice of Mizuko Kuyo fascinating. Good luck in your research. And volunteer translating?! You are certainly a better woman than I!
    I am looking forward to exchanging thoughts with you in the future!

    And Professor Morioka - thank you for the link - again, a wealth of information that has already proven valuable. I found that my knowledge of current and proposed laws was embarassingly limited and I appreciate your insight.

    By Blogger jennifer, at 6:32 AM, June 13, 2005  

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