Japan doctor jailed for buying kidney from mob

TOKYO, January 26, 2012 (AFP) - A Japanese court on Wednesday jailed a doctor who paid mobsters $100,000 for a kidney for himself that had been taken from a man who reportedly owed money to an organised crime gang.

Toshinobu Horiuchi, 56, paid eight million yen ($100,000) for the organ, which he needed after his own kidney failed, Tokyo District Court heard.

Jailing the doctor for three years, judge Atsuo Wakazono said buying a kidney "severely undermined the principle of fairness" in organ transplantation.

"It was a self-centred crime committed by a physician using the power of money. There is no room for clemency," he said.

Six other people, including Horiuchi's 48-year-old wife Noriko, have also been convicted for their parts in the plot to buy the organ, which came from a 21-year-old man.

The court heard the successful transplant only came after Horiuchi's earlier failed attempt to buy a kidney for 10 million yen.

That deal fell through and he lost his cash when he and the mobster he was dealing with could not agree on terms.

Japanese law bans payment for body parts and medical guidelines permit live organ transplants only among family members.

Some 13,000 people are waiting for transplants in Japan, where only about 300 operations are conducted annually, in part due to strict regulations and because of low public awareness about the issue.