So there's this young man of Japanese/Italian descent, name of Takumi, by all accounts very smart and outgoing, with fluency in seven languages. He's suffering from a condition called Ventricular Septal Defect. He has three holes in his heart, and this year alone he's already had two heart attacks and a stroke. It would be nice to know this young fellow had the support of a loving and devoted family to see him through his health crisis. But that's not the case, you see, because Takumi is gay, and his family are devout churchgoers. So instead of getting him proper medical care, they beat him up and threw him out of house and home. Because being religious is all about that family values thing, of course.
Happily, we live in the Internet age, and so with the help of online donations and spreading the word via social networks, Takumi's been getting by, barely. One can only cringe at the thought of all the gay kids living 20 years ago, who didn't have these resources to fall back on. How many gay sons and daughters, who only wanted a little love and someone to call family, have been killed by hearts hardened into hate by religion? (Hey, not bad, that one. It's nice when you can combine a rant with some alliteration.)
$940 for laser heart surgery?!?ReplyDelete
About ten years ago my wife was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect, which is a hole in the wall between the top two heart chambers, as opposed to Takumi's ventricular septal defect which would be between the lower two chambers.
Fixing the problem involved opening her up, stopping her heart, cutting into it and sewing a patch over the 29mm wide hole.
Needless to say, here in America, this was way more than $940.
Not to crush you but I found the way the story is presented a bit strange.ReplyDelete
I did a small investigation which revealed that the domain already was registered on 2008-08-14..
Thanks for this post Martin. I hope your post directs a healthy financial boost toward Theo and Takumi, at least enough to get Takumi to the point where PT can help him out. This is perhaps one of the most heart wrenching stories I have read in a while. I donated what I could.ReplyDelete
Norman, that's interesting. I just did a who.is search that tells me takumisheart.com was registered on March 8, 2010. I did a little more Googling on the obvious terms ("takumi's heart hoax", "takumi's heart scam") and those came up empty. So, at the moment, I don't see any reason to doubt the guy's story. Though it's always wise to be skeptical on GP. My purpose in the original post was not to encourage donations to the guy, but just to illustrate one tragic example of a common problem — gay kids rejected by their families due to religious bigotry. That is something that happens all the time, though in Takumi's case (which I repeat at present I have no reason to think is phony) it's sadder than usual.ReplyDelete
Norman, do you have a source you can give us for that info? Because the public WHOIS info for the website says it was created a few days ago on March 8, 2010....ReplyDelete
No match in archive.org (the WayBack Machine).ReplyDelete
Hey everyone. I'm Theo, the person who is running the site and taking care of Takumi. I learned about this blog when some of you kindly made donations. I wanted to thank Martin very much for posting it and I will attempt to answer all of your questions and concerns. I'm on a train now on my phone, so I'll do the best I can. I would beg each of you, whether you believe the story or not to please ask Snopes.com to investigate us. That's the best way I can think of to verify the site. I've requested an interview, but haven't gotten any replies yet. Ok. Let me go read your comments now and see what questions I can answer. Thank you so much for your time, consideration, and donations!ReplyDelete
I think I may have to leave several comments. Apologies for that. I can give you a fuller account of his story. Takumi was their "child of sin" before he was even born. You see, Takumi was conceived out of wedlock. His parents did not even put their names on his birth certificate initally (although they did some time after his birth). Takumi was raised by his grandparents in Italy who cared for him very much. He went to high school in australia, and college in the Philippines. He has only lived with his parents for two years here in japan. They only let him stay there because he would clean the house and take care of his baby brother. (this is starting to sound like Snow White, I know.). They considered his homosexuality to be their punishment for conceiving him outside of marriage. They kicked him out in violence once he became a financial burden. His mother calls him each day now berating him to pay them back the money they spent on his initial laser surgery. I'm not sure what that cost. By the way, the prices on the site reflect the cost to Takumi after the insurance pays 70% of the cost. That's why some of the prices seem rather low and why we've been able to get as much medical care as we have with small donations. Yes, I registered the site on March 8 of this year. I have no idea where that 2008 date comes from. If you have any other questions, please let me know. Martin, I'd be happy to talk to you on skype if it would help. Again, thank you all! And as an atheist myself, I think I'll start following this blog. Best wishes -Theo (on the train)ReplyDelete
Theo, I think as long as you maintain a practice of openness and full disclosure on the website, particularly as pertains to incoming donations and how the money is being spent as it comes in, along with regular updates on Takumi's condition, that will be sufficient to make a good impression on people. I did the online fundraising thing myself a couple of years ago for some legal expenses, and so I can say from experience the best way to keep the trust going is to communicate clearly and often.ReplyDelete
Is he still an Australian citizen?
If so, he can move back to Oz and have the operation for $0 outlay, subsidised by the taxpayer.
Adelaide, South Australia.
Thanks, Martin. I really appreciate. I've never done anything like this before, never even made a website, so it's all just by the seat of my pants. I'm trying to balance running the site, updating twitter, facebook, answering emails, questions like these, and then the real stuff like right now. I'm sitting here on his futon in his tiny apartment. He's in so much pain I don't know what to do. The hospitals are closed (because they do that in Japan) and I just don't know how to help. I'm thankful that he's been sleeping most of the day. I want to find his father and, at the very least, get him thrown into prison, but I can't. Takumi is on the verge of losing his visa because they won't sponsor him of course, and he can't get a job because of his condition, and if he's force to leave Japan he really has no where else to go. I'm honestly more scared about him killing himself than his heart problem taking him away. He's in so much hopeless despair. And on the site I haven't really gone into it, but this drama gave Takumi's grandfather a fatal heart attack, and gave Takumi's grandmother a fatal stroke. That was last week. And all of it, all of it, can be traced back to his parents. I never really believed in evil until this month. But this is the most truly awful thing i've ever witnessed first hand. And you know, people have been really generous about the money. We honestly have enough now that I'm not so worried about the next month or two of his medical bills, assuming no more surprises crop up. Now it's just everything else that money can't solve.ReplyDelete
So, yeah, I really unloaded here. Apologies for that. I just need an outlet. Maybe I need some sleep too.
Try not to focus so much on your empathy right now that you feel for Takumi, it will suck you down into despair faster than water down a drain. Take it from someone who knows -- I presently care for my physically and mentally invalid father and I also cared for my mother when she was at the end of her life. You have a chance, unlike mine, to actually have a good outcome with Takumi, since he is so young. Too much empathy for Takumi at this point might actually lead to more harm to Takumi (and you) than good.
You need to focus, instead, on just what you can *do* for him, and most importantly form some contingency plans for him (e.g. what if he loses his Visa, what will the government do with him in his current state of ill health? What can you do with him if that happens?). You need to really just focus on the nuts and bolts and not the emotional things. If he is suicidal you may want to get him into a psychiatrist ASAP who can give him some antidepressants to get him over this hump, for example. Post-survival of stroke and heart patients increase by about 50% when they are on anti-depressants following their episodes. Also keeping him fed as best you can is primary. These practical tasks are the only things you have control over and the better you do them the better you can help your friend.
Another source for you, if you have the time, is to perhaps look up a local group to you in Japan on the Internet designed for caregivers to get together and basically talk and compare notes. They are very informal, and you will meet other people dealing with similar situations who can give you great advice in this time when you are a bit freaked out by the sudden change in your own life having taken on the burden of Takumi.
I'm surprised. I was under the impression that Japan was not nearly as influenced by Christianity as the US was.
I had some questions about the VSD issue, however, google and The Cleveland Clinic had some good information. As Curt Cameron said, patching the defect is done in adults (and infants if the defect is too large).ReplyDelete
@Theo: as others have asked, what citizenship does Takumi hold? Most EU countries have health insurance for their citizens, and Australia certainly does. Could Takumi travel to the country of his citizenship for care? I will understand if his health does not permit for this.
You are right, the usual whois tool I normally use Now also gives a march 8 2010 date..
Strange, must have been a glitch in the matrix.
DagoRed - Thank you so much for your impassioned advice. I have been trying to make those plans for him. He doesn't want to go back to the Philippines or to Italy, so I'm trying to see if there's anyway I could get him in to Canada. I hope it won't come to that, but I'll see what I can do. I also thought about raising a ruckus if Japan tries to expel a person with Japanese blood who was beaten by his Japanese father simply because he wasn't able to secure a job soon enough after graduation. But we're going to meet with the immigration lawyer as soon as we can. See what options we have.ReplyDelete
And I could take this opportunity to go into the lack of mental health services available in Japan, but I'll take that as read. But, certainly thank you for the advice. I'm going to try to take it all onboard! I'll try to focus on the nuts and bolts of the situation, as you said.
Ing - Japan isn't as influenced by Christianity or religion, as you say. But his parents aren't exactly Japanese. His dad is half Italian and half Japanese. Mother is Filipino-Taiwanese. They're Catholics.
Dawn - Yeah, it's hard for me to get good medical info here since I can't communicate with the doctors. I'm still not sure if the heart attacks caused the holes, or were caused by the holes. He's had cardiac enlargement for 2 years at least, and is still dealing with really high blood pressure. I really need to get him started in rehab ASAP but he wants to solve the visa issue first.
Again, thank you all for your help and advice! It's much appreciated!
This is Theo. I just wanted to give you all an update. We raised enough money to get Takumi the heart surgery he needed in Tokyo last summer. At first it didn't appear to have solved the problem and we lost a lot of hope, but slowly over the rest of the year he got better instead of worse. And now I'm happy to say that he's recovered almost completely. He's now trying to get a foothold on life again, hoping to finish his degree (he missed just enough classes at the end of his program due to illness to be denied his masters), and start his career doing something in international relations. Personally, I just put 2 and 2 together that this blog is associated with the Atheist Experience web show that I watch from time to time and very much enjoy. Apologies for not realizing that sooner. Life was quite hectic last year. Again, thank you all for the exposure and the help! The story had a happy ending, and that doesn't happen enough in life!ReplyDelete