Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Nagasaki survivor dies aged 98 (update)

Nagasaki survivor dies aged 98 (update)

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Retired Taiwanese medical doctor Wang Wen-chi (???), who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in Japan in 1945, has died at the age of 98. Wang died of sepsis at his home in Chiayi City, southern Taiwan on Jan. 27 after surgery to treat an inflamed bile duct, his family said. Wang was a young Taiwanese physician in Nagasaki when the second atomic bomb dropped on Japan by the United States during World War II exploded just 700 meters from the hospital where he was working as an intern. He was badly injured, but was rescued and treated, so that he recovered to a state that allowed him to fly back to Taiwan the year after the bombing. Dubbed a miracle, Wang lived on in good health, without signs of radioactivity-caused sequelae. He fathered seven healthy children. His son Wang Po-tung said his father had escaped death twice -- the first time in Nagasaki and the second time in Taiwan in 1947, when an anti-government uprising led to the Feb. 28 massacre. That year, Wang Wen-chi was arrested and put on trial after he treated a wounded bank manager from China the day after the start of the uprising and the ensuing bloody crackdown on tens of thousands of demonstrators by Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) troops. Fortunately, the judge was one of his high-school classmates and stealthily set him free, Wang recalled. "We didn't expect him to succumb to his illness," Wang Po-tung said. "After all, he had cheated death twice." His father had always told them about the horror of war, which turned him into an anti-war and anti-nuclear advocate, he continued. In May 2012, Wang Wen-chi won a lawsuit and received 1.1 million Japanese yen (US$9,300) from the Japanese government in symbolic compensation for war-induced damage and losses. He then donated the money to socially disadvantaged groups. "I got the money for what happened to my life. Now I want it to have the biggest possible impact," Wang Wen-chi was quoted as telling his children. At the age of 18, Wang Wen-chi traveled to Japan to study. He was an intern at the Hospital of Nagasaki Medical College -- now part of Nagasaki University -- on Aug. 9, 1945, when the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. He passed out at the hospital after seeing a bright flash of light, and upon regaining consciousness, found fires raging and dead bodies around him. He crawled outside to find help before fainting again, Wang Wen-chi recalled in interviews over the years. He was then told that three Japanese women found him and took him to a Taiwanese doctor, he said. Wang was in a coma for a week. In addition to suffering burns, he was hit in the abdomen by shrapnel and was passing blood in his urine and stool. An estimated 70,000 people were killed in Nagasaki that day. It followed a similar attack on Hiroshima three days earlier. Japan announced its surrender on Aug. 15. Wang returned in 1946, along with his wife and child, to his hometown of Chiayi, where he opened a clinic. He once said he considered himself lucky because of his survival from the devastating bombing, even though he was at a hospital only 700 meters from the hypocenter, while so many people died. Not only did Wang survive, he was blessed with good health and a long life. "The only consequence is that I set off beepers when I pass through security checkpoints at airports because of the radioactivity in my body," Wang said. Wang's wife died last year at the age of 92. She escaped the bombing unscathed because she had already evacuated with their child to a Nagasaki suburb on the day of the bombing. Wang and his wife went on to raise five sons and two daughters, and several of them have followed in his footsteps into the medical profession. Three of his sons and two of his sons-in-law are doctors. (By Jiang Chun-liang and Elizabeth Hsu)


Updated : 2021-09-18 05:48 GMT+08:00