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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hiroshima: Center of Peace

Tomorrow I fly home and conclude a wonderful trip to Japan. Yesterday in Hiroshima, before I gave my presentation, I had time to slip out to the Peace Museum. This expansive, eerily quiet edifice preserves the memory of those killed on August 6, 1945, when the first atomic bomb was used. Inside, Yuko and I read in hushed silence what life was like in Hiroshima the morning the bomb fell, and the devastation that followed. The museum has recovered the actual clothing of some of the children who died in the attack, and most notably several watches, with hands frozen at 8:15 am, when the bomb struck. It was hard to sit through the 30 minute opening film without tears filling our eyes, viewing how the victims suffered. Hiroshima has since become the epicenter of a world peace movement, and every mayor since 1968 has written to world leaders whenever a nuclear weapon is tested, urging them to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. The photo above shows the A-Bomb Dome, now a World Heritage site, which is all that remains of a building near the hypocenter of the blast. It was also about the only thing left standing in the city.

Later, I presented to an audience of 123 hematologists and nurses what hemophilia is like in the US, and how patient involvement and early intervention can make life with hemophilia more normal. Doctors are highly revered in Japan, and ironically this can make patients/parents both comforted and complacent, leaning too much on their medical team's expert advice.

With any chronic disorder, patients and parents must take charge of their own daily life and future. The role of homecare companies was a new one to the doctors and nurses, and at the reception that followed, we discussed how this has improved medical care on the US. Currently Japanese families are prescribed factor through their physician and pick it up at a local pharmacy. It was stimulating to speak to such a high-powered audience, and though role playing was on the agenda for the evening (where doctors would switch professional roles with me or their nurses and enact some real-life scenarios to see how they react), we simply ran out of time. I heard more than a few "whews!" in the audience!


(Photos: A-Bomb Dome; Hiroshima on August 6, 1945; Laurie with Japanese hematologists; Laurie with her hosts, Novo Nordisk Japan)

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