March 5, 2024

Grateful yakuza gives $100,000 to UCLA Medical Centre

No connection to transplant operation, says hospital
Tadamasa GotoAfter Japan’s most powerful gang boss received a liver
transplant at UCLA Medical Center from its best transplant surgeon in 2001, he
donated US$100,000 to the hospital, the Los
Angeles Times has disclosed. A plaque in the hospital reads, "In
grateful recognition of the Goto Research Fund established through the
generosity of Mr Tadamasa Goto."

The newspaper alleges that three other yakuza received
liver transplants between 2000 and 2004, including one who also made a $100,000
donation. The Times says that 186
patients in the greater Los Angeles region on the liver waiting list died in
the year of Goto’s operation. The hospital has denied strongly that there was
any connection between the operations and the donations.

The news sparked a debate over whether it was
appropriate for hospitals to accept donations from criminals. Both the hospital
and the surgeon, Dr Ronald W. Busuttil, declared that they do not make moral
judgments about patients and treat them according to their medical need. They
were defended by Dr Joseph Tector, of Indiana University, who said that the day
jobs of patients are not relevant. "As doctors, you are not a member of
the clergy to ascertain someone’s worthiness," he said. "You don’t
want to discriminate.”

However, bioethicist Arthur Caplan, of the University
of Pennsylvania, disagreed. "It starts to defy credulity that you’re not
going to be curious about who these people are, if only to ask them for more
money down the road. Any development officer who didn’t follow up a $100,000 gift
with a check of who this guy is and who his friends are would be an
ex-development officer."

The case has raised
questions about the credibility of the American transplant system. "You
have a brother who dies because he doesn’t have $500,000 to spend on a liver,”
one doctor told the Times. “That’s a
terrible thing to think about. Then you learn that we have foreign criminals
who come in and get livers.” And Senator Charles Grassley, of Iowa, of the
Senate Finance Committee in Washington DC, which oversees hospital funding,
declared that if the transplant system "doesn’t have credibility, we’re
not going to have people donate organs". ~ Los Angeles Times, May 31