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Sadako enters the hospital.

Soon after winning the relay on Field Day, there were signs that something was wrong with Sadako. She caught a cold and felt a stiffness in her neck. When the cold went away, the stiffness stayed. By early 1955, Sadako's face looked swollen.

After undergoing various tests, the doctor told Shigeo in February, "Sadako has leukemia. She has a year left at the most." Sadako was admitted to the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital.

Hearing the news, Sadako's friends in the Bamboo class discussed what they could do to help Sadako. They decided to take turns visiting her in the hospital.

Sadako's treasured Kokeshi doll
( Owned by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, donated by Shigeo Sasaki )

Entrusting her Hopes to Paper Cranes

Around five months after Sadako was hospitalized, a five-year-old girl in her hospital died from leukemia. "I wonder if I'm going to die like that," she said simply. Sadako evidently knew that she had leukemia and what a frightening disease it was. At age 12, Sadako battled the terror of death.

In August, 1000 paper cranes folded by high school students in Nagoya were delivered to the patients in the hospital. Sadako's room, too, was brightened by cellophane cranes folded in many colors.

Receiving those cranes and hearing the legend, "Fold 1000 paper cranes and your wish will come true," Sadako began to fold paper cranes herself. She threw herself into the task, folding into each crane the desire: "Let me get well."

Paper cranes folded by Sadako
( Owned by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum,
donated by Sadako's friends, Hiromi Sorata and Masako Hatabu )


The candle of Sadako's life is blown out.

Just before Nobori-cho School's graduation ceremony, Sadako received special permission to leave the hospital to attend the Bamboo class farewell party. Her father and mother had bought Sadako this kimono with a cherry-blossom pattern when she entered the hospital.
( Courtesy of Masamoto Nasu,
Photo: Tsuyoshi Nomura)
Sadako never talked about her pain or suffering. She simply folded her prayers into the paper cranes. Despite her efforts, the disease progressed. She began to get fevers, and some days her pounding head kept her from sleeping. Even then, she folded cranes fervently.

In the morning of October 25, Sadako's life finally ended. She was 12 years old.
It was about a year since the Bamboo class had won the relay on Field Day.
The Birth of the Children's Peace Monument