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Discovery of medical records of world’s first nuclear bomb radiation victim

hiroshima“The records are invaluable as those reporting in detail on changes in her health condition after she was exposed to a fatal level of radiation.”

Medical records of world’s first radiation victim from A-bomb recovered Asahi Shimbun, By YURI OIWA/ Staff Writer, 4 August 13,
Long-lost medical records detailing the sharply deteriorating health of the world’s first recognized radiation sickness patient have been
recovered 68 years after the victim died within weeks of being exposed to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

The patient, Midori Naka, a stage actress, died 18 days after she was injured in the nuclear blast on Aug. 6, 1945. She was staying in Hiroshima as part of a traveling theater troupe. After returning to Tokyo a few days later, Naka died while undergoing treatment, which included blood transfusions, at the University of Tokyo Hospital. She was 36.

The discovery came after decades of efforts by researchers to locate her missing records.The hospital kept updates of her condition leading up to her death and the results of her autopsy. But other vital records have been missing until their recent recovery.

Kazuhiko Maekawa, professor emeritus with the University of Tokyo who is expert in treating patients suffering from radiation exposure, hailed the discovery of Naka’s medical records.

“She apparently died of sepsis in the end after the infectious disease
spread all over her body,” he said. “The records are invaluable as those reporting in detail on changes in her health condition after she
was exposed to a fatal level of radiation.”……….
Naka was about 750 meters from ground zero at a Hiroshima lodging
facility where her traveling troupe was staying. After she was
severely injured in the blast, she managed to return to Tokyo, where
she was born and raised.

The recovered records showed the results of her blood tests, a chart
of her body temperatures and the treatment she underwent until her
death, along with diagnoses of her illness as radiation disease…….

Family members of those who were involved in her treatment, who have
passed away, discovered the documents. The Asahi Shimbun interviewed
university officials who authenticated the medical records as Naka’s.

Symptoms that Naka developed and the results of her autopsy were
described in reports compiled by the Science Council of Japan. They
were also quoted in reports on the impact of the atomic bombing that
were taken to the United States after the U.S. military translated the
original Japanese documents into English.

But most of the original records had been missing until the recent
discovery. Some researchers speculated that the U.S. occupying forces
took them to the United States.

Others believed that Japanese officials hid them out of fear of U.S.
forces seizing the data. The recent find ruled out U.S. involvement
behind the loss of the records.

According to the newly discovered documents, Naka was in the kitchen
of the lodging around 8 a.m. on Aug. 6, some 15 minutes before the
detonation of the atomic bomb. She told doctors that she saw a flash
of yellow light two meters square shortly after and heard a noise akin
to the bursting of a hot water boiler.

When she was pulled from the wreckage, she found herself in only her
underwear and with injuries all over her body.

Feeling strong nausea, Naka vomited. After she entered a river to flee
from a raging fire in the neighborhood, she was rescued and taken to a
camp for survivors. Five of the nine members of her troupe, which she
had joined in January 1945 to give performances for workers at
munitions factories, were later found to have been killed instantly.

With no medical treatment provided at the camp, Naka, wrapping herself
in a sheet of straw mat, managed to board the first train bound for
Tokyo after the blast. She arrived in the capital in the early hours
of Aug. 10. She was admitted to the University of Tokyo Hospital on
Aug. 16.

The records showed that her white blood cell counts were down to 400
per cubic millimeter of blood, less than 10 percent of their normal

Naka began losing clumps of hair the following day. Her injuries on
her back sharply worsened.

On Aug. 21, her body temperature rose to nearly 40 degrees. She
received blood transfusions.

Her white blood cell counts dropped further to 300 per cubic mm on
Aug. 22. Infectious ulcers formed around her injuries. She underwent
more blood transfusions.

On Aug. 23, she developed infectious ulcers around the spot where she
had a shot and hemorrhagic macules–the size of rice grains–all over
her body. Additional blood transfusions followed.

Her body temperature rose to 40.4 degrees on Aug. 24. She died at
12:30 p.m. that day.

In 1945, little was known about the health hazards of exposure to
massive levels of radiation……

August 5, 2013 - Posted by | health, history, Japan, radiation

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