An 8-year-old girl arrived from Tokyo on Saturday and was admitted to the UCLA Medical Center for a possible heart transplant, a procedure that is virtually impossible under strict laws in her country.
Miyuki Monobe, of Shinagawa, Japan, was born with a large hole in her heart and a narrow aorta, a main artery that supplies blood to the body and brain. She has been in and out of hospitals since she was born, and has already undergone four heart operations. Her doctor, cardiologist Hidemi Dodo, says he can’t do much more for her.
Miyuki, lying quietly on a stretcher and hooked up to an artificial respirator, left Tokyo with her parents and her doctor. She will be evaluated Monday at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The case has received much attention in Japan and has prompted renewed calls to ease regulations that force patients to seek transplants overseas.
Transplants are not formally banned in Japan. However, brain death is not legally accepted, which makes it very difficult to find transplantable organs.
Under current law, death is recognized after the patient’s heart stops beating. Once the heart has stopped, it deteriorates rapidly and becomes unsuitable for transplantation.