Doctor, mobster held in organ-trading, bogus adoption of donor


A doctor, a gangster, a former mobster and two others have been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to illegally trade a kidney and faking an adoption between 2009 and 2010, Tokyo police said.

It is the first time a doctor and an underworld syndicate member have been arrested over involvement in an organ trading case in Japan, which suffers from a shortage of donors. The arrests, which came Thursday, may shed light on similar cases.

Toshinobu Horiuchi, a 55-year-old director of a clinic in Edogawa Ward who suffers from kidney failure, tried to arrange a kidney transplant, offering ¥10 million to Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate member Kazuhisa Takino, 50, to find a prospective donor.

Horiuchi and the donor, Fumihiko Sakagami, a 48-year-old former gangster, are also suspected of falsely informing the Edogawa Ward office that Horiuchi had adopted Sakagami so that a living-donor kidney transplant between family members could take place, the police said.

The other two arrested were Horiuchi’s wife, Noriko, 48, and Hitomi Sasaki, a 37-year-old woman who lives with Takino, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. All five have basically admitted to the allegations, investigative sources said.

Around May or June 2009, Horiuchi allegedly asked Takino to find a donor and paid a total of ¥10 million from October 2009 to April 2010 after Takino introduced him to Sakagami. Horiuchi registered the false adoption of Sakagami with the ward office in January 2010, the sources said.

Horiuchi was supposed to receive Sakagami’s kidney in June 2010 at a hospital in Tokyo, the sources said, but the operation was canceled after Takino demanded that Horiuchi pay an additional ¥10 million.

Horiuchi eventually received a kidney from a man in his 20s using a different channel and underwent the transplant last July at Uwajima Tokushukai Hospital in Ehime Prefecture. Horiuchi adopted the donor before the operation.

The police are also investigating the second channel on suspicion that there may have been a transfer of money between Horiuchi and the donor as well as a possible intermediary, the sources said.

The Organ Transplant Law bans trade in organs, and the ethical guidelines of the Japan Society for Transplantation allow organ donations by living people only between family members to prevent organ trade.

The law also bans asking for or promising payment for organs, as well as receiving a commission for mediating such transplants.