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Japanese Child Gets Heart In Operation Illegal Back Home

Sun., Dec. 28, 1997

A Japanese toddler who came to the U.S. for a heart transplant remained in critical condition Saturday at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center after receiving a new heart.

Eighteen-month-old Rina Taira came to Los Angeles last month for the procedure, which Japanese law prohibits for young children.

The toddler underwent a four-hour surgery early Friday morning after a donor heart was flown from Phoenix, Ariz., said Matt Brown, a spokesman for the medical center.

The toddler was diagnosed shortly after birth with a heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy, a genetic disease where the heart muscle becomes enlarged until it is unable to pump blood effectively. A support group in Japan raised about $384,000 to finance the operation.

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