Seventh liver transplant death linked to Kobe hospital revealed


A man in his 50s died after receiving a liver transplanted from a living donor at a Kobe hospital last March, raising to seven the number of fatalities among the 10 patients who have undergone the operation at the facility, sources said Monday.

The man received part of his sister’s liver at the Kobe International Frontier Medical Center and died in December, the sources said.

Reeling from revelations last April concerning the high number of fatalities among its liver transplant recipients, the institution, which opened in November 2014, suspended medical operations last November, and has closed its Singapore clinic and a project in Indonesia as well.

The man, who was the seventh person to undergo a living-donor liver transplant at the hospital, had transferred to another medical institution in Kobe after the suspension of medical operations at the Kobe International Frontier Medical Center, according to the sources.

Following the transplant, the man’s sister suffered complications in which the blood vessels in her liver clogged and she subsequently underwent two further operations to repair them, they said.

Of the 10 people who received living-donor liver transplants at the hospital, five died within a month of the operation.

The last transplant was conducted in October after the hospital said a panel of outside experts had given the green light for the operation to go ahead, but the male Indonesian patient died in January.

The Kobe Municipal Government inspected the hospital in June after a group of liver transplant surgeons across Japan concluded that some of the deaths could have been avoided if medical staff had taken a different approach.

Koichi Tanaka, director of the hospital and the surgeon who performed the transplants, denied any malpractice at the time.