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Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2006

LIFELINES

Meditation, donor cards, transplants


Zen meditation

Paul read that it is possible to practice Zen meditation at Enkakuji Temple in Kita-Kamakura. "I live in Yokohama, so not so far away. How would I go about this. My Japanese is poor. But then the artist I read about, Hans Bauer (interviewed on the People page; Feb. 4) was German and only visiting."

As the main teaching temple in Japan, Enkajuji has a good program for studying Zen meditation throughout the year. The schedule is printed at the end of the translated leaflet handed to English-speaking visitors when they pay the entry fee. There is a daily morning practice from 6-7 a.m. at Butsuden (Buddha Hall) approached through the monumental wooden gateway. (Use the side entrance to get into the compound; the main entry point for the ticket office will be closed).

If Butsuden is still in darkness, just wait. Practitioners and the monk on duty will soon turn up. It will help if you have practiced before, but if not, attendees are usually very kind and will help and show you what to do. Sitting is done in 10-minutes sessions, so not so painful.

Donor cards

Masao O. writes in response to the question about donor cards. "Although I'm not a transplant surgeon, my understanding of the Japanese Organ Transplant Law (through the reading of articles in the Japan Times) is that both an official Japanese organ donor card and the consent of your relatives are absolute requirements for the diagnosis of brain death and for organ transplantation from a brain-dead person in Japan."

He continues: "No other forms of documentation or consent, such as foreign donor cards, driver's license stickers, and notarized letters stating your willingness to donate your organs, regardless if the hospital staff recognize them for what they are, have any legal standing in Japan.

"They would only serve to alert the hospital staff that you might have an official Japanese donor card and to keep on looking in your wallet."

Organ transplants

JP says he didn't realize organ transplants were legal in Japan. "I seem to be always reading about kids and adults going abroad for transplants. What is the situation?"

Katsuyuki Miyasaka, MD, Director of the Department of Anesthesia and ICU at the National Center for Child Health and Development in Tokyo has some useful information on this topic also.

He says the donation of organs after brain death has been declared is approved in Japan only when a possible donor has left a written will (donor card) indicating his/her wish to donate organs if he/she is diagnosed with brain death and close relatives do not oppose the will (meaning that the relative can reverse the will).

"Medically, there are established brain death criteria (Takeuchi criteria) in Japan, but only people above age 15 can be donor candidates due to Civil Law requirements.

"Until now, only 29 cardiac transplantations from brain death donors have been performed since such transplantations became legal in 1997.

"Many more cadaveric kidney transplantations and living related liver transplantations have been done."

He adds that The Japan Organ Transplant Network has donor cards in English (there are two Web sites with information: www.jotnw.or.jp and www.medi-net.or.jp/tcnet/index_e.html

Regarding the current status of cadaveric transplantation in Japan, there a working system where organs are collected and transferred to facilities where individuals are waiting for such organs. JOTNW is handling this.

Finally, a sincere apology to my original contact, Dr John Takeyama, of NCCHD. In Lifelines of Jan. 31, he appeared with the surname of his colleague (Miyasaki), rather than his own.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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