An 8-year-old girl awaiting a heart transplant will be flown to the United States this weekend because Japan’s strict laws make transplants virtually impossible here.
The case has received nationwide attention in Japan, and opponents of transplantation laws are using it to renew their calls for an easing of the regulations that force those in need to seek donors overseas.
Miyuki Monobe was born with a large hole in her heart and a narrow aorta - which supplies blood to the body and brain. She is currently being treated at the National Children’s Hospital in Tokyo.
She has been in and out of hospitals all her life, and has undergone four heart operations. Her doctor, cardiologist Hidemi Todo, says he can’t do much more for her.
“We can’t do transplants here for political reasons,” Todo said Wednesday. “But we have a patient who will not survive unless she can get a new heart.”
Todo said he contacted the University of California at Los Angeles and was told that because of the girl’s poor health she would be given priority for a transplant there. He plans to fly Miyuki to Los Angeles on Saturday.
Miyuki’s story has generated an outpouring of sympathy. Over the past two weeks, her family has received more than $560,000 in donations from across the country - almost enough to pay for the $600,000 operation.