Japan Updates: March 24, 2011

March 24, 2011

Japan continues to experience a severe shortage both in fuel and in the number of personal assistants who can tend to the needs of people who need ongoing care, Relief Headquarters has reported.  The Relief Headquarters for Persons with Disabilities of Tohoku-Kanto Great Earthquake, launched on March 15, is one of the few sources of support for people with disabilities in Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. 

Relief Headquarters also reports that an Independent Living Center in Koriyama City, one off the regions affected by a local nuclear plant accident, continues to suspend most operations and is uncertain when they will be able to resume.  At this time, they are only able to provide a limited number of personal assistants to clients with the most need for them.  An attempt to use volunteers as personal assistants was reportedly ineffective because volunteers did not have sufficient experience.  Learn more detail at http://dpi.cocolog-nifty.com/en/2011/03/no-fuel-no-pers.html

In other news from Japan, a local observer there has recently learned that, on the day of the earthquake, the family of one person with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ("ALS" or "Lou Gehrig's disease", a condition affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord) took turns helping him breathe.  Due to power outages combined with severe fuel shortages, people in Japan who have difficulty breathing on their own have faced challenges in keeping their electric respirators powered.  The family of the person with ALS took turns using an "ambu bag"--a self-reinflating bag that a caregiver can use to manually enable a patient to breathe.  They continued to use the ambu bag until a doctor arrived to deliver a battery, thus saving their family member's life.  For more updates from Japan, visit http://twitter.com/yuki_adi.

Relief Headquarters is continuing to expand their communication outreach by providing introductory leaflets in Russian, Korean, and Portuguese.

People from outside Japan may make donations to Relief Headquarters via either credit card or bank transfer.