The Japanese man accused of killing 36 people in an arson attack in Kyoto in July is undergoing experimental treatment for burns to 90 percent of his body.
It was decided that the survivors of the blaze should be prioritised for the limited amounts of donated human skin available to treat their burns.
Shinji Aoba sustained critical injuries after allegedly igniting fuel that he had poured in the lobby of the Kyoto Animation Co. studios in Kyoto, with burns to 90 per cent of his body.
It was initially believed that 41-year-old Aoba would not live, as experts put the likelihood of anyone with third-degree burns to 90 percent of their body surviving at just one per cent.
It was announced in early September, however, that Aoba’s burns were no longer considered life-threatening and that he would undergo skin graft surgery at a hospital in Osaka.
Organ donation is uncommon in Japan and doctors treating the 33 people working at the animation studio who were also badly burned in the attack have been given priority for the limited stocks of donated human skin for grafts, medical sources told Kyodo News.
As a result, doctors have had to use the small patches of Aoba’s own skin that were not damaged for some of his grafts but have relied heavily on artificial skin for the majority of the reconstructive surgery.
The procedure has been carried out elsewhere in the world but is a first in Japan for such extensive third-degree burns, the sources said.
The fire destroyed the outer layers of skin as well as the underlying subcutaneous tissue and Aoba’s treatment and recovery will be presented at an academic conference to be held next year.
In September, police began questioning Aoba, who has admitted to the arson allegations. Authorities are preparing to bring murder charges as soon as the suspect is sufficiently recovered to be transferred to a prison hospital
“I targeted the [Kyoto Animation] studio building where the largest number of people worked because I thought I would be able to injure many people”, police quoted Aoba as saying during questioning.
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Aoba has told police that he carried out the attack because the studio had stolen his story ideas after he sent them manuscripts for two novels. The company has confirmed that it received the two manuscripts but said they never passed the initial screening process.
Aoba has reportedly told hospital staff that he expects to be sentenced to death.