Japanese Medical Team’s Visit to PacMed Marks 20th Checkup for A-Bomb Survivors

This August marked the 70th anniversary of the tragic 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These incidents, which killed more than 200,000 people during and immediately following the August 6 bombing of Hiroshima and the August 9 attack on Nagasaki, prompted Japan’s surrender and are occasions of solemn ceremony. An estimated 189,000 survivors—called hibakusha in Japanese—are still alive.

Since 1977, Pacific Medical Centers, King County Medical Association (KCMA) and a team of Japanese doctors from Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association have collaborated to track the health of hibakusha to determine the after-effects of atomic radiation through biennial exams.

The examinations, led by the Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association in cooperation with the KCMA, are intended to provide medical assistance to U.S. and Canadian citizens of Japanese and Korean descent who survived the atomic bomb blasts and to study the long-term effects of atomic radiation. Through the years, the study has broadened to include the children and grandchildren of survivors with the goal of understanding what, if any, lingering effects these descendants may have from the radiation their parents received from the bombings. This year there will be an additional focus—examining the chest X-rays of hibakusha.

Every two years, the study is conducted in Hawaii, Seattle and San Francisco. This year in Seattle, we anticipate approximately 30 hibakusha and 10 of their descendants from Vancouver, Canada, and across Washington state. The medical examinations with the survivors and the descendants will take place Saturday, September 19, and Sunday, September 20, at the Beacon Hill location of Pacific Medical Centers.

At PacMed, we focus on the health of not only our patients, but also the surrounding communities, which is why we feel so strongly about participating in this effort. Each biennial checkup and study has proven to be a memorable and educational experience, and we look forward to welcoming the Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association team from Japan to PacMed later this month.