The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

NPO suspected of facilitati­ng transplant of trafficked kidney

- The Yomiuri Shimbun

ATokyo-based nonpro t organizati­on is suspected of having facilitate­d an overseas living donor kidney transplant that used a tra cked kidney. Audio and video recordings obtained by e Yomiuri Shimbun and interviews with individual­s a liated with the NPO reveal that the donor was a Ukrainian woman who was having nancial di culties, and that the price for her kidney was about $15,000 (¥2 million).

e Organ Transplant Law prohibits organ tra cking as well as demands for or promises of organ sales. In 2008, the Transplant­ation Society issued the “Declaratio­n of Istanbul,” which states that organ tra cking should be prohibited because it violates “the principles of equity, justice, and respect for human dignity.”

e NPO in question is Intractabl­e Disease Patient Support Associatio­n (Nanbyo Kanja Shien no Kai), headquarte­red in Meguro Ward, Tokyo. According to the organizati­on’s website, the NPO has been referring patients seeking organ transplant­s to hospitals in China and other countries since 2003, and has reportedly been involved in more than 100 transplant­s, mainly from cadavers. In the case of kidney transplant­s, the NPO has received fees of around ¥20 million per patient.

e Yomiuri Shimbun has obtained several audio and video recordings relevant to the present case, including one of a Yokohama man who serves as the

NPO’s director communicat­ing with a Turkish coordinato­r. Testimonie­s were also obtained from individual­s a liated with the NPO and patients who had undergone surgery.

According to the recordings and testimonie­s, the NPO asked the Turkish coordinato­r for his cooperatio­n a er it was no longer possible to travel to China due to the novel coronaviru­s pandemic. In December last year, the coordinato­r guided four Japanese men and women to a hospital in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, where the coordinato­r had arranged for them to receive kidney transplant­s.

e NPO agreed to pay about $80,000 (¥10.7 million) per patient for the surgery, of which about $15,000 would be the donor fee for the organ.

e rst of the four to undergo surgery was a 58-year-old woman from the Kansai region. e donor was a Ukrainian woman who received nearly $15,000 in return for her donated kidney and told those around her that she had used it to pay for her daughter’s school fees.

The woman who received the transplant became seriously ill after the operation. She returned to Japan at the beginning of this year and was hospitaliz­ed. The transplant­ed kidney was not functionin­g and had to be surgically removed. The doctor told her that if she had returned home one hour later, she might have died. The operations for the three remaining Japanese were canceled after an Israeli who came to the same hospital through a different route and underwent transplant surgery died.

In June, the NPO and the Turkish coordinato­r held an online meeting. e NPO had already paid the coordinato­r a total of $45,000 in donor fees for the three patients who were not able to have their surgeries.

e two con rmed that the deal remained un nished and agreed to work to resolve the issue. e Turkish coordinato­r was arrested by Ukrainian authoritie­s in 2017 on suspicion of involvemen­t in organ tra cking, and he is still on trial.

e NPO director responded to e Yomiuri Shimbun questions in writing, saying that he was not involved in the case and that he did not know about the payment to the donor. “e NPO is not involved in any activities except for hospitaliz­ation and discharge procedures and support for patients’ personal care,” he explained. (Aug. 9)

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