Chapter 3 : Relief of the Atomic Bomb Victims

Dr. Nagai went into a six-month period of mourning after the death of his wife (photo taken in 1946).


 Dr. Nagai suffered a tremendous loss in the atomic bombing. But faced with the reality of the situation, he resolved to devote himself to the relief of the survivors. Waiting for him was a subject of study that no one before him had ever tackled: atomic bomb disease.

 There were immense numbers of injuries andcases of atomic bomb disease, andpeople were dying left and right. Dr. Nagai strove to help the victims but soon succumbed to injuries himself and had to suspend his relief activities.



 Urakami Cathedral in the wasteland (photo taken by Prof. Suetsugu in late 1947).


Dr. Nagai suffered numerous cuts on the right side of his body as a result of flying splinters of glass. The cut on his right temple was so deep that it severed an artery and caused blood to spurt out like a fountain. Dr. Nagai continued his relief activities with a bandage around his head but finally collapsed as a result of blood loss.

The symptoms of atomic bomb illness appeared around September 10, and Dr.Nagai lost consciousness as a result of the necrosis of his wounds and high fever.

Miraculously surviving, Dr. Nagai resumed relief activities and returned to the lecture. He continued to go out on rounds even after becoming a professor in 1946. During one of his trips he collapsed at Nagasaki Railroad Station and had to be carried home by a friend. After that he was confined to bed and is condition worsened day by day.

"From that day to the present the illness has gradually gained momentum. Now I have to rely on other people even to fetch pieces of paper for me. I barely have the strength to look into a microscope, let alone to examine patients. Fortunately, though, my topic of research-- atomic bomb disease--is right here in my own body."

(from Kono Ko wo Nokoshite [Leaving These Children Behind]) by placing his own body on the research table.