Donations sought for sick daughter of Russian disaster-relief worker

Kyodo

A Russo-Japanese group is seeking donations to treat the cancer-stricken 1-year-old daughter of a Russian rescue-team member who helped disaster survivors in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, after the March 2011 quake and tsunami.

Born last May, Anna Melnikova was diagnosed with acute leukemia in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk in April and is currently being treated at a Tokyo hospital.

A hospital official said Melnikova has an excellent chance of surviving if she receives the appropriate treatment, but added she would need to be hospitalized for about 18 months at a cost of ¥40 million.

Her father, Evgeniy Melnikov, has already sold his property to raise part of the costs but is still short of meeting the target.

In a bid to support his efforts, the group has set up a website and bank account to collect donations. It had gathered 3.621 million rubles (around ¥9.5 million) in Russia and another ¥3.4 million in Japan as of Tuesday.

“The treatment is a long-running battle. We will continue our support so that (the girl) can receive treatment to the end,” said Tatsuo Mizuno, 40, a Sony Life Insurance Co. employee heading the group.

Melnikov’s visit to Japan was set in motion when her father approached a diplomat at the Japanese Consulate General in Khabarovsk whom he had met in Tohoku.

The consulate decided to grant special consideration to his daughter’s case and immediately issued both her and her parents with visas. The family arrived in Japan on April 16.

Heart transplant for boy

Kyodo

A 13-year-old boy with a serious case of dilated cardiomyopathy will travel to the United States on Thursday for heart transplant surgery after receiving donations from the public.

Hiroshi Yokoo, a second-year junior high school student from Hino in western Tokyo, will stay at Columbia University Medical Center in New York to wait for a donor, members of his support group said.

The boy developed the disease when he was 2 and weighs only 17 to 19 kg. Only a child’s heart will be suitable for his body.

Since the probability of receiving a heart from a child donor is extremely low in Japan, Hiroshi’s parents began raising funds in late March and had gathered about ¥130 million in roughly a month, surpassing their target.

Although Hiroshi’s condition had been worsening, his doctors say he has improved enough to travel to the United States.

“We take seriously and appreciate the fact that we will be able to travel to the United States,” his parents said through the group. “Please look forward to the day when he comes back in good health,” his parents said.