Exposed JCO worker to be moved

A worker who was exposed to a massive dose of radiation in Japan’s worst-ever nuclear accident will be transferred to a different hospital to receive more generalized care, as his hospitalization is expected to be prolonged, doctors said Thursday.

Masato Shinohara, 40, will be moved Monday from the Research Hospital of the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Medical Science in Tokyo’s Minato Ward to the University of Tokyo Hospital in Bunkyo Ward, doctors said.

In late February, Shinohara experienced difficulty breathing on his own after contracting pneumonia and was bleeding from his stomach. He was moved to the intensive care unit and placed on an artificial respirator.

His condition has since stabilized but remains unpredictable. Doctors have decided to move him to a better-equipped medical institution where he can obtain care in the fields of plastic surgery and rehabilitation.

The doctors told a press conference Thursday that Shinohara’s breathing has improved. They said he can breathe on his own for short periods of time during the day, but that his pneumonia has become chronic and he continues to bleed from his stomach.

They said they have also observed necrosis in his fingers and toes. — a condition thought to be caused by deteriorating blood circulation resulting from excess radiation exposure.

Shinohara was exposed to an estimated 8 sieverts of radiation at a JCO Co. uranium-processing plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Sept. 30.

Coworker Hisashi Ouchi, 35, died Dec. 21 from multiple organ failure after being exposed to an estimated 17 sieverts of radiation.

That level is said to be about 17,000 times the maximum annual permissible exposure.

Shinohara and Ouchi poured an excess amount of uranium into a processing tank, triggering a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.