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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Newborn Baby Saves Dad's Life

Want to know what saved one Japanese man from probable death on March 11, 2011? A newborn baby.

On that day, 31-year-old Sato Kenji (surname first) took time off from work at a nursing home to attend the birth of his third son, Haruse, who was born in a nearby hospital in coastal Minamisanriku.

A few hours later, the only thing left of his place of employment were a few twisted steel pillars with almost all of the 70 residents of the nursing home killed by the tsunami waves caused by the massive 9.0 Magnitude earthquake off the coast of northeastern Japan.

A tsunami is not just one wave... it's many waves... as wave after wave smashed through Minamisanriku, killing about 1,300 of its 17,000 residents. 

The joy of the birth of his son was put on hold as Sato and a host of other survivors began searching the town of Minamisanriku, one of the worst-hit towns of the tsunami, to see if they could help anyone.

“I just confirmed that my wife and son were safe (and) then, I spent days identifying bodies and  looking for evacuation centers for the elderly,” states Sato.

One year later, in 2012, the Sato family were at their house to quietly celebrate Haruse's first birthday, knowing that the baby's birth had helped save the life of Kenji, Kenji's wife and his mother, Kazuko. The house, by the way, survived the tsunami's onslaught simply by being located high enough up a hillside.

Still, grandmother Kazuko believes that Haruse "was born to save us." (Ed. Note: That's a lot pressure to put on a baby... why does he save only you and your family and no one else? Bah! You make the concept of God a fickle bastard!)

Because of Haruse’s birth, Grandma Kazuko also took the day off from her job at the Minamisanriku town hospital. These days, a boat still sits perched on top of the 5-storey hospital, as a stark reminder of just how high the tsunami waves flowed through town.

From the time Sato and his friends began sifting through the remains of their town, it wasn't until the first week of April that he was able to see his son Haruse for a second time.

Knowing that if it wasn't for the birth of his son, he could have died, a somber Sato sighs: "I wish all that happened in between was just a bad dream.”

Compiled by Andrew Joseph

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