Organ Donation in Japan = Non existent

10 years ago by in Travel

A few days ago, I went to the hospital for a check up. I asked for a donor card and
they told me to go where you give blood, or most convenience stores have them.
I went to about 10 convenience stores but they all said they didn’t have donor cards.
I found out Donor cards are available at city halls, public health centers, post offices,
and driving schools throughout Japan. They are also available by mail from JOTNW .
I also asked about 15 random Japanese, and foreigners if they were organ donors, because I was curious
they all looked at me with their mouths open, as if I were a ghost, and said no.

Recently I saw a film called 7 pounds that deals with organ donation, with Will Smith as the protagonists. I very much
recommend this film, in Japanese it is called 7つの贈りもの.

My name is Naotomo Umewaka. I am a Lebanese Japanese independent
documentary filmmaker. I recently graduated from studying film at Temple University, Tokyo, Japan. I am currently planning to make a
documentary which will highlight the importance of organ donation.
The reason why I am so passionate about this topic is because my
best friend Jacob Fields who was born with an illness of the liver.
When he was nineteen years old, Jacob was diagnosed with
chronic liver disease so he had to leave his school in Texas, USA and
return to England, where his parents live. The doctors said
that he had a few months left to live. However he was able to have a successful
liver transplant. But Jacob was one of the lucky ones.

In Japan 40 human organs for transplant have been donated since 1997 to 2006.
As of 1996, the Japan Transplant Society estimates that there are 387 to 1264 patients in
need of heart transplants. The number is estimated to increase from 205 to 670 annually

Some candidates have to wait up to three years for a suitable organ. And for
too many the wait will be too long. The number of people on waiting lists and subsequent deaths due to a severe lack of transplantable organs is
much greater around the world. So I have two main aims in making these film. I want the film to raise awareness of organ donation and to inspire more people to donate their organs. In doing so I hope that suffering and deaths due to shortages of transplantable organs will be reduced.

I make humanistic films with a strong social message but always with a sense of humor. I always strive to balance pain and suffering with the joys of living. This documentary and film is an instrument to raise awareness of those who are waiting for an organ transplant, while also emphasizing the precious friendship that I share with Jacob Fields. My previous films have been selected in several well established film festivals such as The Queens International Film festival, in New York, and The Hannover International Film Festival, in Germany. I won the Critique’s Prize at the Wallabout Film Festival in Manhattan, New York and also received a special mention from Japan’s Foreign Correspondence Club.

Jacob and I

Jacob and I