Imagine if you can a time and place where in one split second life as you know it is changed forever. The date is August 6, 1945, and you are living in Hiroshima. Around 8:16 a.m., without a single warning, an A-bomb explodes 580 meters above the city that you are living in and four different types of radiation have just been released into the air. The first two, alpha and beta ray radiation, will be blocked by the atmosphere and thus won?t reach you on the earth?s surface. The other two, gamma ray and neutron radiation, did come through the atmosphere and are now affecting your body in ways that people would only think could happen in science fiction books.
How this A-bomb affects you depends on where you live. If you were at ground zero when it hit, you would have absorbed 10, 300 rads of gamma radiation and 14, 100 rads of neutron radiation. This means that if you lived through the bomb?s heat and blast you would die within a week or two from the radiation exposure; which could be more than 700 rads of gamma, or 70-350 rads of neutron radiation. On the other hand, if you were one kilometer away from the hypocenter, you would have absorbed ?only? 255 rads of gamma radiation and 191 rads of neutron radiation.
Even if you lived through all this there was still the ?ashes of death? that could kill you. The ?ashes of death? was the dirt and debris that was blasted back up into the air absorbing the radioactive rays as it did so.
These actions will result in you having radiation sickness. This doesn?t mean much to you until you realize that within two weeks of having this sickness your days will be filled with vomiting, hemorrleage spots, stomatitis, dizziness, diarrhea, and disturbances in the blood forming organs like bone marrow. Then within five weeks you will began to experience hair loss, anemia, and a decrease of the number of white blood cells. After forty days, you will have cataracts over your eyes, and from this point on you will have continuous damage to your blood forming organs. This in turn leads to an abnormal decrease in your red blood cells, white blood cells, blood platelets, and out of this results in serious malignant anemia.
You must also keep in mind that this does not just include the survivors, but also includes the rescuers who entered the city during the first few days after the bombing. You also would not be protected if you hadn?t even been born yet. During this time, there was an increase of stillborns and miscarriages that was eleven times greater than the normal rate, and infant mortality was eight times greater than the normal rate. You would be considered one of the ?lucky ones? if you were born with microcephalia and other ?small? defects. You could also develop other cancers such as leukemia, cancer of the thyroid, lung cancer, cancer of the esophagus, stomach cancer, bladder, and other urinary tract cancers, and also could develop malignant lymph cancer. To help give you a better understanding of what is exactly going on inside your body, I will tell you this: the national incidence of Leukemia is 2 or 3 people for every 100,000, and out of the A-bomb survivors that lived closer than two kilometers from the hypocenter, it was 29.44 people for every 100,000. For those who entered the city within three days after the bombing, the rate is 7.75 for every 100,000, and finally within a week after the bombing the rate is 6.63 for every 100, 000.
Now I am going to move onto tell you a story of the hell that the Sasaki family lived through during the atomic bombing. I am going to be as blunt as I can about it because I feel that it only fair to the ones who had to live it. You only have to read about it.
On the morning of the bombing there were 350, 000 people in the city of Hiroshima. Mr. Sasaki was not there, but was an army medical orderly at the time of the bombing. His wife, Fiyiko and a sister Chizuko ran his business, a barbershop, while he was away. When the bomb hit their house they were all sitting down to a late breakfast. There was Fijiko, and Chizuko, of course, but there was also Fijuko?s children Masahiro age four, Sadako age 31 months, as well as Grandmother Sasaki who was 76, and also Chizuko?s child Fiyie. The day was described as having a typical, slightly white, beautiful summer sky. How could anyone in the city have known that a type of demon was coming towards him or her. The torpedo-shaped uranium bomb weighed in at four tons and was three meters long, with a diameter of seventy-one centimeters. In one-ten-thousand of a second a fireball of 300, 000 degrees expanded to a diameter of thirty metes. In one-one-millionth of a second, the explosion was a super hot one million degrees centigrade.
Sadako Sasaki was born to a man named Shiego and to a woman named Fiyiko on January 7, 1943. Her father ran a barbershop and took pride in his work. When her father was drafted to be a soldier her mother took over his duties as well.
She was like any other little 12-year-old girl. She had parents and siblings who loved her. She had two brothers named Masaliro who was 14 years old, and Eiji who was 6 years old, as well as a little sister named Mituse who was 9 years old.
Her parents had always thought that she was such a healthy child. She was the best runner in her class; which was called The Bamboos. I think that the best moment that she will remember is when her class came up from behind and won the race on field day. So much joy and laughter filled that day who would have know that this energetic girl who was called monkey by her class mates would turn deathly ill in such a short period of time.
I am not trying to say that she was an exception child mind you. It has been said that she was of average height, and weight. She had a slightly dark completion, and a fairly ordinary face with large, round eyes. She was a shy child, whose favorite subject was music, and could often be found humming Hibari Misora (her favorite singer) tunes under her breath. Then again maybe this is the reason that she grabs a hold of so many hearts. By being ?average? and fairly ordinary, she proved that she was a human being who deserved to live just as much as any other child in the world.
Nor am I saying that she came from an exception family either. Her family got into money troubles due to an acquaintance who was unable to pay his debts. Since Mr. Sasaki had been used as the man?s guarantor, he was then expected to pay. Even this shows that nothing in life is certain. I am sure that before Sadako was found ill that this problem was on her father?s mind almost every single moment of the day. It kind of reminds you of what is really important in life, and this is the reason that I felt compelled to write this paper.
The first sign of sickness started as a stiff, swollen lymph node under Sadako?s left ear. A relative discovered it when the family went to spend time with Fujiko?s family. At first it was tossed aside as nothing to worry about, but in time Mrs. Sasaki became worried and took her to the ABCC (Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission).
Not many people in Hiroshima trusted the ABCC, and rightly so. For one thing it was establish in November of 1946 by the very people who had caused such hell for them in the first place. Due to the fact that it was created to study the later effects of the bombing, the people of Hiroshimo felt they were being treated as guinea pigs. Out of the 90% of the survivors who were studied, few were given little or no medical treatment by the ABCC.
Since she was exposed to the A-Bomb going to the ABCC was a routine thing for Sadako. She had been going every two years since she was two years old. All though it was routine, it was still painful. The first thing that she was required to do was strip naked and put on a short white robe. Then they gave her a series of test such as electrocardiogram, an x-ray, blood tests, and also studied the condition of her heart.
When she went on February 16 they also took fluid out of her bone marrow and pierced her hipbone with a needle. Her screaming could be heard down the hall. Her father had to hold her mother back from running to comfort her child.
On February 18 around 9:00 am, her parents received a call from the ABCC asking for at least one of them to come in. It was there that Mr. Sasaki found out that his daughter had the feared ?A-bomb disease? or Leukemia and that she wouldn?t last for more than half a year.
Her parents now realizing how seriously ill their child was takes her to the Red Cross Hospital, but before they go Mrs. Sasaki feels compelled to have a kimono made for her daughter. Having a kimono is very important in Japan, and due to their money troubles they had never had one made for Sadako. Sadako picks out a cherry blossom material, and her mother takes her to Mihara City where Shigeo?s sister lives. She is an excellent seamstress, and with the help of Sadako?s mother the Kimono is finished in the morning.