A 19-month-old Japanese boy who underwent a six-organ transplant is finally going home, months after the life-saving operation that could not be done in Japan because donated organs are not available there for young children.
In his yellow T-shirt, Yosuke Ohashi squirmed and laughed and playfully banged his head on a conference table at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Pre-Transplant Office.
"Before the operation, he was almost dying," Yukiho Ohashi said of his son. "He was suffering very severe jaundice," and other symptoms.
Yosuke had a condition that limited his intestinal function and caused his liver to deteriorate. He underwent an 8-hour transplant of his liver, pancreas, stomach, small and large intestines and spleen at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
Ohashi looked toward Tomoaki Kato, the University of Miami surgeon who led the transplant team during the Christmas Eve, 2004 surgery, and said, "He made a miracle."
"Happy," said the boy's mother, Yoshie Ohashi. She and her husband were to depart yesterday for Japan with Yosuke and his twin sister Luna.
Kato has been monitoring Yosuke's progress over the nine months since the surgery. "He had one episode, what could have been a complication," Kato said of his young patient, "but he is now ready to go" to Japan.
Japanese law does not allow children under 15 to become organ donors, a measure enacted to protect the rights of children.
While it is not against Japanese law to receive organs, "Without a donation, you cannot be a recipient," said Omar Montejo, spokesman for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Ohashi, a businessman who raised more than $1 million for his son's surgery in Japan and Chile, where the family had been living before the surgery, said he hopes to speak out on behalf of young Japanese patients like his son, when the family returns home. His goal is to help change laws and make organ donation by children more acceptable in Japan.
"Many, many children are waiting in Japan. I hope this success will make a positive impact in Japan. I hope many children could be saved," the father said.