On Sept 3, at the International House Osaka, the 46th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society for Burn Injuries was held. Speaking at the conference was the doctor in charge of treating Shinji Aoba, the mass murderer who killed 36 people and injured a further 33 after setting a Kyoto Animation studio on fire in July of 2019.
The doctor outlined the four-month process of treating Aoba’s burnt skin with a cultured copy of Aoba’s own skin. This process allows skin transplants to occur without a donor, which is very useful in cases where skin banks are low on supply or available tissue is rejected by the patient’s body.
These kinds of transplants aren’t so new, but what is special about this one is the extent to which it was done. Aoba’s case allowed the doctor to push the limits of this procedure.
▼ News report of Aoba appearing in court last June with a glimpse of his post-op appearance at about 4:30.
With about 90 percent of his body suffering third-degree burns during the attack, this is likely the largest self-cultured skin transplant ever and an important example in dealing with the inherent challenges of such a procedure.
The biggest problem is the time it takes to culture enough new skin to cover so much of his body from the relatively scant living samples that were still on it. So, at the conference the doctor shared the process of protecting the patient from infections while maintaining his nutrition for the entire grueling four-month process, telling attendees, “I would like you to refer to this method to save as many people who suffer heavy burns as you can.”
Readers online were glad to hear improvements were made to skin grafting but also disgusted that so much effort has gone into saving such a detestable person.
“I heard that a police officer said the guy didn’t even apologize for it…”
“The guy’s going to die one way or another. At least they got some good medical data out of it.”
“If I was burnt like that, would they go to such lengths to save me?”
“I hope he gets better soon so he can face justice.”
“This will hopefully lead to a similar kind of organ transplant and that’s a really big deal.”
“They should do more tests on him. Even if it kills him, it’s valuable data so no loss.”
“I heard they spent a billion yen on this guy so far.”
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