Tags: grassley | gangsters | ucla

Grassley Questions Surgery for Gangsters

Sunday, 08 Jun 2008 03:08 PM

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LOS ANGELES — A United States senator wants to know more about liver transplant operations performed by U.C.L.A. Medical Center on four Japanese gang figures, according to a published report.

The senator, Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, wrote a letter to the University of California, Los Angeles, requesting surgery details, according to a story posted Friday night on the Web site of The Los Angeles Times.

“While surgeons do not seek to pass moral judgment on the patients they treat, Americans hope at the very least that foreign criminal figures wait in line along with the rest of us,” Mr. Grassley wrote.

The senator, who is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, also sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which in 2001 helped an alleged Japanese gang leader, Tadamasa Goto, acquire a visa to enter the United States in exchange for leads on potentially illegal activity in this country by Japanese criminal gangs.

Law enforcement officials said Mr. Goto had provided no useful information and returned to Japan. The university said Mr. Goto, 65, later donated $100,000 to the hospital.

Mr. Grassley also asked for information from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, a private hospital accreditation group and the United Network for Organ Sharing.

The surgeries were performed by Dr. Ronald W. Busuttil, executive chairman of U.C.L.A.’s surgery department.

They were performed between 2000 and 2004, and in each of those years more than 100 patients died awaiting liver transplants in the greater Los Angeles region, according to The Times.

There is no proof that U.C.L.A. or Dr. Busuttil knew the patients had ties to Japanese gangs, The Times reported, nor is there any suggestion laws were violated.

The hospital and Dr. Busuttil have said in statements that they do not make moral judgments about patients, but treat them according to medical need.

Hospital officials have not yet reviewed Mr. Grassley’s letter and would not comment on it, a U.C.L.A. spokeswoman, Dale Tate, said.

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