Organ transplants are an amazing procedure where one person is able to give away a piece of their body in order to save another person’s life. The other aspect of this is that, in many cases, the donor has died under tragic circumstances.

Although sourcing organs can be a challenge anywhere, this issue is especially problematic in Japan. Of the 14,000 people that need transplants there, only 300 receive them each year. To help with this, the Green Ribbon Campaign has been launched there (the color green representing new life and growth).

According to Togo Kida, who serves as director of the Second Life Toys project along with Akira Suzuki, “The mission of this campaign is to proliferate the idea of organ transplant to the people. Our hope is to connect those who are in need of organ transplant with those who state the will to donate their organs, and create a society where more lives are saved.” This project was established in December 2015, and takes a broken toy and replaces the faulty part with one from a different stuffed animal.

The idea is that these repaired toys can serve as a way to talk about a difficult subject. According to Kida, “Part of the reason is that, organ transplant which conjures the image of death, is not a topic that is discussed widely among the people in Japan. When it comes to organ transplant for children, the tendency intensifies. We are working on this campaign because we thought we needed a way to talk about this topic in a more casual manner.”

The process for this toy donation is that people submit pictures of their stuffed animals to their email address, [email protected] Once analyzed, they will email back an address in Japan where the donor toys should be submitted. The donor does not have to live in Japan, but he or she will need cover the cost of postage.

Once received, a plush toy artist working with the project will turn the repaired toy into something unique using the donated parts as an augmentation. According to Green Ribbon project committee director Misa Ganse, “This project expands the notion of organ transplant by making it an enhancement rather than a compensation.”

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The resulting toys are certainly unique, such as an elephant with a squirrel’s tail as a trunk, a bear with arms from a monkey, a whale with fins made out of dragon’s wings, or many other interesting ideas. Hopefully the child will be delighted with the refurbished toy, and the unique item can help open up conversations about the underlying theme. The donor then receives a thank you card, potentially opening up more conversations.

Kida continues that, “In Japan, the number of child donor is significantly low: less than 10 organ transplant operations annually, nationwide. For example, the number of organ transplant operation done is only 3.4% compared to the United States.” Regardless, people in the United States and elsewhere still struggle to find suitable donors. Though a difficult subject to think about or discuss, those that do participate as donors do an immeasurable amount of good for someone.