Mad Cow/CJD Lawsuit In Japan Over Tainted Transplant
Copyright ©1997 Kyodo News Service
OTSU, Japan, Dec. 11 (Kyodo) - The family of a patient suffering from a debilitating brain illness will file a criminal complaint next week against two company heads for allegedly importing and selling dried dura mater, the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal chord, while knowing of its risks, the family's attorney said Thursday.
The Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) patient's husband, Sanichi Tani, 48, and his family plan to file the complaint Tuesday against the heads of the Tokyo- based companies on suspicion of attempted murder with the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office, Tani's attorney said.
One of the companies is a defunct importer while the other is responsible for selling the product, according to the attorney.
Tani's 43-year-old wife, Takako, allegedly contracted the illness after undergoing a dry dura mater transplant, due to a spinal chord disease, at an Otsu municipal hospital in 1989.
Last year, seven years after the operation, Takako began complaining of weak eyesight, and later fell into a coma and was diagnosed with CJD.
Patients and relatives of CJD patients have already filed damage suits against the state and companies at the Otsu and Tokyo district courts.
It will be the first case seeking criminal responsibility over CJD.
Tani, a dairy farmer in Shiga Prefecture, western Japan, is also considering filing a criminal complaint against Health and Welfare Ministry officials who were in charge of approving imports and sales of dry dura mater, the attorney said.
In November last year Tani filed a lawsuit at the Otsu District Court against the state, the Otsu municipal government and the two companies seeking 90 million yen in compensation.
CJD, similar to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or ''mad cow'' disease, causes a debilitating brain condition that affects the central nervous system and finally leads to death. There is no known cure at present.
According to the ministry, there are 863 CJD patients nationwide. Among these, dura mater transplant operations are alleged to be the cause of 46 cases.
AP-NY-12-11-97 0932EST

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