The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has begun studying the advisability of raising the age limit for heart transplant recipients by five years, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
Currently, those aged 60 or older are ineligible for heart transplants, but the change under consideration could raise that standard to 65.
The ministry's studies are in response to a proposal by the Japanese Circulation Society, a nationwide group of cardiovascular specialists, calling for the extension of the heart transplant age limit.
It may be advisable to raise the eligibility age in light of the rapid aging of society and moves in the business world to allow employees to continue working up until 65, according to ministry officials.
The JCS and related expert organizations jointly decided in 1997 on heart transplant guidelines, which said heart transplant recipients "should preferably be younger than 60."
Because of the guidelines, it has been extremely difficult for those on the cardiac transplant list who are aged 60 or older to undergo transplant operations.
Transplant expert bodies had judged that the small number of donated hearts for transplants should be used for heart disease patients of working age.
According to the Japan Organ Transplant Network, the nation's sole organization for matching brain-dead organ donors with organ recipients, 127 heart transplant operations had taken place as of April 20 this year since the enforcement of the Organ Transplants Law in 1997. All but five of the recipients are still alive, the network said.
A breakdown showed that recipients in their 20s to 50s accounted for 111 of the 127, or 87 percent of the total, while six others were in their 60s.
Read more: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120422002258.htm
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