In the late 1980s, the mother of a close female friend of ours in Tokyo went into hospital for a hysterectomy. This is major, if fairly routine, surgery.

However, the operation didn’t go well and she needed a blood transfusion. Our friend’s husband and some of his colleagues rushed to the hospital to give blood — but in vain. Our friend’s mother, only 56 years old, died of what the hospital deemed to be heart failure.

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