September 30, 1999, Hisashi Ouchi was exposed to approximately 17 sieverts of radiation. Ouchi worked at a nuclear fuel processing facility in Tokai Village, Japan which is 110 kilometers northeast of Tokyo.
At the JCO nuclear fuel conversion facility, the plant created the fuel rods for other power plants by converting uranium hexafluoride to uranium dioxide. On the day of the accident, Hisashi Ouchi and his co-workers purified uranium oxide to make fuel rods for a research reactor. It would be the first batch of fuel produced at the factory in 3 years.
The specific job had no dedicated workers; whoever was assigned to the area did the job without prior experience or knowledge of what could happen while handling uranium. In addition, three years prior, the company changed the work procedure without permission from the regulatory authorities.
It allowed uranium oxide to be dissolved into stainless steel buckets instead of a dissolution tank. It was modified to speed up the process by dumping the solution directly into the precipitation tank, unable to control the amount poured into it.
Since the workers were inexperienced, they accidentally put too much uranium in the tank seven times the amount required and mixed the materials by hand, triggering alarms. Hisashi Ouchi received the most radiation because he stood directly over the tank when intense Gamma and neutron radiation intensified.
Ouchi was taken to a nearby hospital and placed in a radiation area where he was not exposed to external pathogens. When the body receives such high doses of radiation, the body is unable to make new cells, such as white blood cells, to fight off infection and red blood cells to carry oxygen. A side effect Ouchi began to experience over 83 days while family and the medical staff kept him alive.
When Ouchi arrived, he did not look sick; his face was a bit red, his eyes were bloodshot, and he only complained of pain in his ears and hands. The medical team was hopeful that he would survive.
That only lasted for a day, the next day, he began using oxygen, and his abdomen started to swell. At this point, he was transferred to the University of Tokyo for more intense treatment. However, his condition only continued to go downhill.
When doctors looked at the bone marrow they had collected from him; they noted his cells were broken into pieces, meaning that his body would not be able to regenerate the cells, which required a stem cell transplant, which was unsuccessful.
Shortly after, he began developing a severe thirst. Then, his skin slowly deteriorated and sloughed off his body, coming off with the medical tape and devices needed to monitor his status. Further tests showed that his chromosomes, which were used to regenerate skin, were destroyed.
At this point, he began to suffer from intense pain, breathing issues, and an inability to eat. Finally, when his heart stopped, the doctors revived him; they reported that he received treatments that were ¨revolutionary¨ and never used on radiation victims until Ouchi.
At one point, Ouchi stated:
“I can’t take it anymore,” “I am not a guinea pig.”
At this point, you wonder why he was not made a DNR, also known as a Do Not Resuscitate, and forced to endure 83 days of treatment. The reports state that the family would not allow the hospital to cease treatment and insisted on continuing treatment even if it was experimental.
After his first heart attack, he proceeded to have three subsequent heart attacks, each time being revived. However, on his 83rd day in the hospital, he had one final cardiac arrest and died on December 21, 1999.