LDP Lawmakers Call for Improving Organ Transplant Facilities; Proposals Include Reviewing Medical Service Fees

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Liberal Democratic Party’s headquarters building in Tokyo

A group of ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers promoting organ transplants is set to submit proposals to the Kishida administration, focusing on improving organ transplant facilities so they can handle a significant increase of donated organs from brain-dead patients.

The proposals were compiled following a series of cases in which the University of Tokyo Hospital and other transplant facilities declined donated organs due to staff and bed shortages. The LDP group is chaired by former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura and will officially approve the proposals at a general meeting set for Thursday.

Specific measures of the proposals, which will be given to Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Keizo Takemi, include increasing the medical service fees paid to transplant facilities and facilitating cooperation between relevant facilities.

Establishing an organ transplant system that can handle a higher number of donated organs was stipulated in the Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform, which was approved by the Cabinet on Friday. The administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will discuss measures to prevent organ transplant services from being overwhelmed along with the proposals.

The proposals also request boosting the organ procurement system in addition to transplant facilities. Specifically, by increasing the number of prefectural organ transplant coordinators and improving how they are treated. Coordinators are appointed by respective prefectural governments to relevant organizations and medical institutions.

The proposals also envision a system that allows family members of patients who are possibly brain-dead to receive proper explanations about organ transplant.

Last year’s proposals called for establishing a system that asked medical institutions to notify an organ donation agency about possible brain-dead patient. It was aimed at increasing the number of organ donations in Japan following cases of unauthorized mediation of organ transplants overseas.

Based on the request, the health ministry began a project this fiscal year to share information on such patients among hospitals.