Japanese Law Prevents Boy's Life-Saving Transplant

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2009 4:35 PM CDT
Eleven-year-old Hiroki Ando suffers from a disease that inflames his heart, and will probably die without a transplant.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – A Japanese law prevents 11-year-old Hiroki Ando from receiving the heart he so desperately needs, CNN reports. Ando suffers from cardiomyopathy and will likely die—as his sister did 5 years ago—without a heart transplant. But the minimum age for organ donations in Japan is 15. "This stipulation has greatly reduced the possibility of transplants to small children," one activist group said.

Many in Japan believe that the heart, not the brain, is proof of life—so parents don't want beating hearts harvested from brain-dead children. That perception has filtered down to other organs. "A lot of people in Japan waiting for a transplant ... most of them just die," one lawmaker said. Ando, meanwhile, has moved to a New York hospital, where he awaits a new heart.