Reaching out to a Japan in crisis

UMMS community members who want to help can donate to the American Red Cross

By Kristen O’Reilly

UMass Medical School Communications

March 11, 2011
 Urano Article
Fumihiko Urano

As the true extent of the horrific devastation caused by the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan becomes apparent, many members of the global community are looking for ways to help ease the suffering of the Japanese people. Members of the UMMS community are no different, and those with family connections are leading the call for help. 

Pediatric pathologist Fumihiko Urano, MD, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine, is originally from Japan and has been in contact with family members who still live there, some of whom are also in the medical profession. Although his family lives near Tokyo, which was not as affected as other parts of the country, his brother was visiting a hospital in northern Japan, where the damage is the greatest. 

“When the first big earthquake hit the area, he felt that he was going to die,” said Dr. Urano. Luckily, the hospital his brother was visiting has emergency backup power and is functioning, although short of medicine. “My sister's clinic in Tokyo was damaged and all of her outpatients had to walk home because the public transportation system was not functional.” 

It took 48 hours for Urano’s brother to make it back to the Tokyo area. But he is already planning to return to help the hospital he was visiting. The U.S. Navy, along with the Japanese military, is helping to provide some medical supplies, he said, but the need is still so great. 

Urano said that he hopes the UMMS community will reach out to the people in Japan. 

“In Japan, people are trying their best to rescue and support the victims. Your kind, thoughtful donations in support of their efforts is the utmost help we can offer from outside the country,” he said. The U.S. 

Consulate General is recommending that donations be made through the American Red Cross where you can specifically designate your donation to the crisis in Japan. 

“Knowing of such warm thoughtfulness from people so far away will encourage the people of Japan to thrive and fight in this difficult time,” said Urano. 

Editor’s Note: According to the Office of Global Health, there were no UMMS students or faculty registered with the office on official business in Japan at the time of the March 10 earthquake.