A 20-month old baby girl from the Fukushima Prefecture village of Hirata is in dire need of a heart transplant. Baby Aoi Yoshida has a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, which enlarges and weakens the heart. To be able to effectively gather donations, the villagers created the Yoshida Aoi-chan o Suku Kai (“Committee to Save Aoi Yoshida”) to raise enough money to bring Baby Aoi to the United States.
According to associate professor Arata Murakami of the University of Tokyo Hospital, where Baby Aoi is currently being taken care of, dilated cardiomyopathy causes the heart muscles to steadily thin. She was diagnosed with the sickness on February this year but her condition began to worsen in July. In August, in connection to a clinical trial, she was fitted with a ventricular assist device that would improve her blood circulation. Although it improved her health a little, having an artificial heart poses dangers such as clots or infections; and only a heart transplant will save her life.
Baby Aoi’s parents, Akiko and Masahiro, have already received an informal consent from Columbia University hospital officials to allow Aoi to undergo the operation. Their target date of departure for the United States is as early as January 2013. Unfortunately, the cost of the trip and the surgery is expected to reach 165 million yen (approx. $1.95 million), hence, the committee formed by their neighbors. Committee head Norio Kuboki said of Baby Aoi, “we want to help this small life.”