Monday, November 6, 2006 at 07:52 EST
MATSUYAMA — The Uwajima Tokushukai Hospital, at the center of a recent organ purchase scandal, admitted Saturday it had conducted kidney transplants, aside from the organ deal case, without formal consent from donors.
The hospital in Ehime Prefecture, which earlier admitted the use of kidneys feared to have been affected by donors' diseases in 11 transplant operations, said in a press conference that it had conducted eight of the transplants without donors' written agreements.
"We did not take written agreements. But we sufficiently explained to donors and their families," said Makoto Mannami, 66, the surgeon in charge of kidney transplants at the hospital.
He said the donors verbally approved the use of their kidneys for the transplants.
The Japan Society for Transplantation has no regulations related to written consent for such transplant cases and plans to examine the matter.
Some experts, however, said that the issue is "out of the question" and there is no need to set guidelines for such cases.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry as well as the Ehime Prefectural government have also started to investigate the matter.
Meanwhile, Hiromichi Sadashima, president of the hospital, said at the news conference that although he had let Mannami handle the matter, "I knew to some extent."
Mannami also admitted he did not take written agreements from recipients who underwent the transplant operations, while adding that he explained to them about the risks of the transplants and had gained approval.
"There are people who are in real trouble because of lack of donors. I did these operations under an extremely urgent situation," Mannami said.
The hospital conducted the 11 transplants from September 2004 through September this year, using kidneys removed from patients suffering from tumors, swollen arteries and other conditions affecting the organs.
A total of 10 people received the kidneys, as one recipient received transplants twice. Though one recipient had the kidney removed, others are in a sound condition, according to the hospital officials.
Meanwhile, it was found that Mannami's younger brother Rensuke, 60, who is also a doctor, has removed kidneys at two hospitals in Okayama Prefecture without explaining that they would be used for such transplants, according to officials of the two hospitals.
The Uwajima hospital has been in the spotlight, with police arresting a man last month for allegedly paying for a kidney before having a transplant at the hospital and a woman for acting as a go-between in the deal.