• Kyodo

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The Kobe Municipal Government inspected a newly opened hospital on Monday where five out of nine patients who received livers from living donors died within a month of undergoing the procedure.

The inspection, based on the Medical Care Act, came after the death of the fifth patient last Friday following a liver transplant.

The Kobe International Frontier Medical Center opened last November.

About 10 inspectors, including public health center officials and other experts, entered the hospital shortly before 10 a.m. to check medical records and staff attendance books. They were expected to interview Koichi Tanaka, director of the hospital and the surgeon who performed the transplants.

Following the revelation in April of the high death rate among liver transplant recipients, the Kobe Municipal Government interviewed Tanaka and other hospital staff and concluded later that month that there were no problems.

But the city later decided to carry out the inspection after a report by the Japanese Liver Transplantation Society, a group of liver transplant surgeons that looked into the cases, said three of the four deaths could have been avoided if the medical staff’s approach to the transplants and the surgery plans had been problem-free.

The hospital performed the latest operation, which was originally scheduled for April 22 but was postponed due to the deaths, on Wednesday and Thursday. The 63-year-old patient died early Friday following massive bleeding during the surgery.

At a news conference, Tanaka, a Kyoto University professor emeritus and veteran liver transplant surgeon, denied any malpractice in connection with the five deaths.