• Crime & Courts

Organ Transplant Mediation NPO Claims to be “Japanese Government Authorized”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hiromichi Kikuchi, the director of an NPO that had been engaged in organ transplant mediation, is transported to the prosecutors office on Thursday.

The Tokyo-based nonprofit organization that had been engaged in unauthorized organ transplants mediation was found to have approached Belarus, claiming to be an organization accredited by the Japanese government and asking it to accept patients in October of last year, according to sources involved in the investigation.

In reality, the NPO did not have the government’s permission to mediate under the Organ Transplant Law, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department believes that the NPO was trying to gain the trust of the Belarusian side.

Three Japanese patients traveled to Belarus in 2022 under the guidance of the NPO Intractable Disease Patient Support Association. One of the trio, a man in his 40s, underwent a liver transplant in February last year.

The MPD on Tuesday arrested the NPO’s director, 62-year-old Hiromichi Kikuchi, in that case on suspicion of violating the Organ Transplant Law, which prohibits organ trafficking and unauthorized mediation in arranging transplants.

According to investigative sources, Belarusian hospitals stopped accepting patients after it was reported last August that the NPO was suspected of organ trafficking in a kidney transplant it mediated in Kyrgyzstan.

Kikuchi responded by sending an email to a Belarusian medical-related company last October to find another hospital and approached that facility about accepting a new patient.

In the email, Kikuchi described the NPO as the largest organization in the country authorized by the Japanese government, and outlined five patients seeking October kidney transplants and two patients targeting liver and kidney transplants in November.

He also said every year there are 10 to 15 patients seeking transplants. The medical-related company apparently did not respond to Kikuchi’s email.

In the transplant performed in Belarus, two of the three patients, including the man who received a new liver, deteriorated after their operations and died.

The combined cost for the three transplants to the NPO was about ¥130 million.