Culture, Conflict, and Cost: Perspectives on Brain Death in Japan

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Japanese surgeons have performed only one heart transplant in the quarter century since the procedure was developed. Possessing the requisite training and technology, transplant surgeons have been stymied by several factors that elude professional and political solution. Most critically, the lack of a brain death standard limits the availability of transplantable organs. Mistrust of the medical profession, traditional outlooks on death, and the primary placed on consensual decision making have fueled debate about brain death and transplantation. Volatile and value laden, these issues have overwhelmed the discussion of health care resources, equal access to high-technology medical procedures, and insurance coverage for transplantation.

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International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care