Texas doctor caught in Japan quake sends medical supplies

As soon as his 35th-floor Tokyo hotel room stopped shaking during last month's earthquake, Dr. Shinichi Matsumoto had one thing on his mind: finding his family.

"I tried to call my wife but the phones were already shut down," he said. "Finally I got a text message that they were safe."

A few weeks later, when Matsumoto returned to Fort Worth, where he is director of islet cell research at Baylor All Saints Medical Center, he set out to help others in his native country who were not as fortunate.

Last week, Matsumoto and Baylor Health Care System employees shipped medical supplies, clothing and water filters to the University of Tokyo School of Medicine.

"We've sent everything from latex gloves and sterile gauze to stretchers, wheelchairs, hospital beds and everything in between," said Dr. Donald Sewell, director of Faith in Action at Baylor Health Care System. "Tens of thousands of dollars worth of supplies have been shipped and will get there in 16 to 18 days."

Most of the supplies were provided by Baylor employees. Buckner International donated clothing and Texas Baptist Men sent 2,000 water filters.

In the wake of the biggest earthquake on record to hit Japan, the demand for first aid supplies and assistance is great, Matsumoto said. The death toll from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northwestern Japan has reached 12,468, and 15,091 are still missing.

Dr. Morihito Takita, a post-doctoral fellow at the Baylor Research Institute, will spend about a week in Japan working with officials distributing the supplies.

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