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Okinawa teen’s heart transplant goes well

Date Posted: 2011-04-29

Miyu Kaname is resting comfortably at Columbia University Hospital in New York today, a new heart beating in her teenage chest.

The 13-year-old Urasoe City junior high school student received a heart transplant Monday, thanks to the generosity of Okinawans who raised more than ¥180 million to save her life by getting a new heart. She’d been diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, a condition that could only be rectified by replacing the defective heart.

She’s now in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital following a 2½ -hour heart transplant surgery. Kaname and her parents had gone to the United States several weeks ago in anticipation of a suitable donor being located for her. It came more quickly than her family had even hoped for, and Toshiaki Kaname, her father, said “I’m happy. I feel relieved because the operation succeeded and I hope for a good recovery.”

Once the anesthesia is fully worn off, a process that can take several days, she will be moved to a general ward where she’ll be monitored for an extended period. The family says Miyu will remain in the U.S. for at least six months while doctors conduct tests and she gains strength before clearing her to return to Japan. Her father said “she didn’t feel stress before the operation. She played games, watched DVD’s and was relaxed.”

Thousands of emails poured in the past several weeks wishing her good luck and made efforts to cheer her up. The joint representative of the Save Miyu Party, which raised the funds necessary for the surgery, breathed a sigh of relief. Keiji Funakoshi said “It is deep emotion we’re feeling now, and we hope Miyu returns home soon, filled with energy.”

Initially, The Save Miyu Party raised ¥91,200,000, but then pressed on with a goal of an additional ¥60 million more necessary to reach the targeted level. They far exceeded the goal, putting the family breathing more easily. The cost of the operation and the location of where the operation procedure had to be done, cost a lot more than the insurance would provide. The government had approved the family to seek out donations to fill the financial gap required to perform this operation, and the Save Miyu Party took up the challenge to raise the funds to cover all costs.

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