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August 7, 1996

Healing the Hiroshima Maidens: A Historic Lesson in International Cooperation

Author Affiliations

JAMA summer intern

JAMA. 1996;276(5):351-353. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540050011004

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THE AUGUST 6,1945, atomic bombing of Hiroshima did more than destroy the city and kill at least 100 000 of its inhabitants: it also forever changed the lives of the survivors and their progeny. Years of rebuilding and recriminations followed this single act of destruction.

Particularly tragic was the number of civilians who were killed and maimed, many suffering horrifying injuries that handicapped and disfigured them. In 1955, a few compassionate and well-connected Japanese and Americans worked together to heal some of the survivors' physical and psychological wounds, creating in the process lasting bonds of friendship and collegiality that continue to this day. Through a series of diplomatic maneuvers and a few strokes of luck, 25 badly burned young women, the "Hiroshima Maidens," were able to come to the United States for plastic surgery to ameliorate some of the damage done by the bomb.

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