Funds raised for baby’s treatment

Kyodo

A group of Japanese and Russians said they have raised their target of ¥40 million to pay for leukemia treatment for the baby daughter of a Russian rescue worker who helped out after last year’s earthquake and tsunami disaster in the Tohoku region.

The group set up in late April to help 1-year-old Anna Melnikov achieved the target June 1 after collecting about ¥20 million in Russia and about ¥17.8 million in Japan and being given a donation for the remaining amount by a Russian entrepreneur.

Anna’s 44-year-old father, Evgeniy Melnikov, who joined relief efforts in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, said, “All our family members would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the warm support from the people.”

The girl was diagnosed with acute leukemia in April in Khabarovsk, and is now receiving treatment at a Tokyo hospital.

While a hospital official said she has a high chance of being cured if she receives appropriate treatment, she will need to be hospitalized for about 18 months at a cost of around ¥40 million.

Her father has sold off his property to raise money but was unable to achieve the target. The family saga quickly spread to the Russian community in Japan via Facebook, and members organized the support group with the help of Japanese.

The group set up a website and a bank account to raise money for the treatment and the family’s living expenses while they stay in Japan.

“When we were in trouble last year, this brave man from Russia gave us a helping hand. Why not do something in return?” Japanese staff say on the group’s website.

The girl’s trip to Japan was realized after her father talked to a diplomat at the Japanese Consulate in Khabarovsk who had visited the disaster-devastated area with Melnikov.

The consulate decided to give special consideration to the girl’s case and immediately issued visas for her and her parents, who arrived in Japan on April 16.

The group said it will continue to support the Russian family until they return home.