There is a book called "The Miracle of 1/4" published by Makino Shuppan. Please allow me to introduce it.
. . . What is the "Miracle of the 1/4?" asks Takuro Yamaguchi (journalist). It is a documentary that touches heart with tremble. There is a teacher from a school for Children with special needs that talks about "the truth." She is known by nick name "Kakko chan." That is Ms. Katsuko Yamamoto. She is a teacher at School for Children with Special needs of Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan. Crybaby; carefree thinker; clumsy in unordinary way; are some of the ways that this teacher is described. Nonetheless, children are always looking forward to be mesmerized by her magic. Ms. Yamamoto realized in the interaction with the students, that there is the "Truth" that binds and permeates through the universe. The "truth" was taught to her by the children who are labeled as "handicapped" by our society. So…what is the "truth?" What is the "miracle of the 1/4?".... Let us tell you of the heartwarming true stories surrounding Ms. Yamamoto and the children.
- The probability is one forth
People who have heard of Ms. Katsuko Yamamoto may be somewhat sensitive to the progress of times. Prefectural special needs school is located in the southwestern part of Ishikawa prefecture in a small town, near the Sea of Japan. At the school, you can constantly hear students voice asking for Ms. Yamamoto: "Kakko chan, please tell me a story; Kakko chan, please come here." The children call Ms. Yamamoto with suffix "chan" which is an endearing form of addressing someone.
Looking very dainty; small voiced; slow in enunciating; having grip strength of only 15 lb; on top of that she is a crybaby and has no sense of direction or athletic ability…; such is the fragile impression of Ms. Yamamoto. However, she has been lecturing throughout Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa. The counts of her inspiring lectures gobeyond 500. She is a woman that is getting much attention now. Kakko chan, who had never been confident to get in front of people or to speak in front of an audience, has a reason to be so committed. The source of strength is in the promise she made with a girl, "Yukie chan" who passed away due to a devastating ailment. Yukie suffered from multiple sclerosis. One day, while in a hospital bed, she asked Ms. Yamamoto, "Could you tell me a story that will make me feel pleased?" Then she started to tell a story about a TV program on a science theme which came on the night before. Once upon a time, in a village in Africa, malaria epidemic enraged leading the village to suffer a devastating blow. Nonetheless, even with the wide extent of the epidemic, there was a group that always survived the devastation unharmed. In later years, the scientists analyzed the survivors and their descendants. Then a fact surfaced.
In the areas of malaria epidemic, a certain proportion of the population carries a mutated gene (hemoglobin S gene). In addition, where there is a birth of a child with the gene that is resistant of malaria, there is a high chance of his/her sibling to be born with deadly disabilities. The chance of this condition is one forth. If there were 4 children to be born, one of them are likely to be born with this severe condition with shortened life span preventing them from reaching adulthood for the most part. In other words, in order to win the survival race against malaria, aside from the gene to resist malaria, there had to be those who were born with life threatening disabilities. If it were not for the ones who had "taken on" the devastating condition, the village had been extinct. When Ms. Yamamoto told Yukie the story, she had thought for a moment and said, "it is such a shame that we are the only ones who know this wonderful story: The fact that diseases and disabilities may be important; the fact that each of us have a role; the fact that these are supported scientifically; the fact that everyone is needed by the universe; I want Kakko chan to make these facts to become common knowledge of the people of the world." "It is impossible" Ms. Yamamoto tried to explain, but Yukie interrupted and pleaded, "Please do not say anything and just promise me." Ms. Yamamoto tells, "This promise moves my heart continuously every day." ? ? ?The things that children with disabilities teach Kakko chan, she says are the answers the following questions: why do I exist?; what it is to live?; what it is to love a lot? The answers to these questions are the "truth." .....
When I saw the TV program that I told to Yukie chan, I thought the reason why we can walk toward tomorrow is because there are people who may suffer from difficulties and ailments yet doing their best to live today. If it were not for these people, we would not exist today. I felt because even today, there are those who are suffering from diseases and disabilities, the children of the future will be able to walk toward their future. Then I thought that is how the Universe lives one life together with everyone.
In the movie “the miracle of 1/4", sickle cell disease is mentioned. In the compiled book with the same name as the movie, Dr. Yutaka Niihara also writes. He is a Professor of Medicine at UCLA School of Medicine with expertise in the field of sickle cell disease and has been working on developing the treatment for 20 years. Please allow me to give you some of the excerpts from his chapter.
“Sickle cell disease is a terrible disease. When a crisis occurs, frequently it is accompanied by severe abdominal pain, whole body bony pain and nausea. As the disease progresses, spleen atrophies, bone infarcts, stroke is induced, heart attack occurs and eventually the patient dies” “Timing of the attack is unpredictable. Obviously, their work and/or studies are affected. Subsequently, they not only struggle with the disease but they are excluded from society leading them to carry burdens both emotionally and economically. They often come to us after being devastated emotionally and economically due to the attacks preventing them from working. They cry out, ‘why am I the only one that has to suffer like this? People around me do not understand the pain and treat me as a trouble maker. I do not understand the reason for my existence.’ When I felt these pleas, I decided to make it a life work to develop treatments for these patients.” Then he finally developed the medication.
“It was a discovery that sickle red blood cells consume more glutamine than normal red blood cells.” “Glutamine is also a very important compound for every organ and system. However, sickle red blood cells have susceptibility to oxidation which leads to cell damage and use up glutamine faster than normal cells.”
When the patients started to take glutamine, tendency for oxidation decreased significantly and the sickle shaped blood cells started to look more like the normal blood cells. Twenty years of work finally blossomed. In order to reach here, it took much funding and time. Many grants and support have sustained the research. This is the way this treatment was discovered but as these patients and treatments were somewhat neglected, it is not known by many people yet. It is just like the “Snow White Project.”
As I have had a chance to meet Dr. Niihara and befriend him, an urge developed in me. The urge was that; it is not right that suffering continues due to lack of understanding or knowledge.
The reason why we can walk toward tomorrow is because of many who are suffering from diseases or disabilities. It is because they are doing their best to live. Sickle cell disease patients also are the ones who are doing their best in suffering. I wanted many to know about the disease and the treatment.
Around this time when I started to have the urge, Dr. Niihara asked me “Is there anything I can do to help the ‘Snow White Project’?” So I told him, I would like to spread the information about sickle cell disease and the treatment. As a result, we decided to put our efforts together in spreading the knowledge about each other’s projects in each other’s HPs.
Because of this background, I would like those who visit this HP to gain knowledge about sickle cell disease and the treatment.
The book “The life can find happiness” (Sunmark Publications) is one of my favorite books.
Starting with the words on the front cover, I start to have tears. The message is “Anyone can give, even if it is simply a word ‘thank you’. It may become someone’s hope and peace.” The night that I received the book I fell asleep like a log due to fatigue. But the next morning, I woke up early to read the book with excitement and felt so happy like as if I was surrounded by the warm thoughts. Dr. Niihara writes, “to live is maybe to increase the number of those we love. Even if someone may harm us or be mean to us, to respect them as human beings just like us is to be a human. This may be the greatest strength given to human beings.” “In our lives, we are programmed to give even from the cellular level.” I had a renewed feeling that the universe is full of love and each of us is living by being connected to this love.
When Dr. Niihara first heard about “the miracle of 1/4,” knowing the great suffering of sickle cell disease patients, he had difficulty accepting the fact that the pain may serve others. But when he told the story to one of his patients, he smiled with happiness. As he faced the smile, he felt a person can be strong when he/she is able to give. He felt that this is the nature of our wonderful being.
Another discovery of Dr. Niihara is that L-glutamine is very beneficial for ordinary people.
L-glutamine provides improved immunity and strengthens organs such as intestine, liver and muscles. It also helps in recovery from fatigue and maintenance of health.
I asked those who handle L-glutamine for their motive to market it.
As I found out, I was very happy to hear that the medication for sickle cell disease is such an expensive product. Instead, it can be provided as a supplement. In addition, this glutamine is produced in our bodies. During vigorous exercise, it is consumed to help the body, used to improve immunity, and also to help ameliorate the effect of sickle cell disease. Our human bodies are working very hard to protect us always. I was again very impressed and touched.
With the new treatment, the thought of sickle cell disease patients who have been suffering from pain can become better and relieved from pain makes me very happy. Snow White Project supports spreading the knowledge about sickle cell disease and its treatments.