Kenji Watanabe

Kenji was born on 24th June 1990 in Sapporo, Japan. He lives in Sapporo and attended a special school. When he was born he was very cheerful and mischievous. He liked to sing, listen to music, play with his train set and enjoyed sports, such as soccer. At the age of six he was diagnosed with Hunter Syndrome.This is a rare, incurable degenerative disorder caused by a failure to build connective tissues all over the body. At the moment there is no effective treatment and no available medicine. The only way to stop its advance is through marrow transplantation. Kenji was very lucky because his marrow type matched his older sister Yuka’s. In 1997 he underwent marrow transplantation operation. After spending a long time in hospital songs and words died away from Kenji’s mouth, and he could no longer sing or speak.The reasons for this are not understood, but it may have been the result of the prolonged medical treatment or the advancement of the disease. He became like a baby and is incapable of caring for himself. Despite this, the marrow transplant was very successful. Inside Kenji’s body his sister’s blood began to flow and the progress of the disease was stopped. Kenji has lost many things but his smile remains. His brave little body has fought against the disease with all his strength. He has a tremendous will to survive and he lives life to the full. He started painting when he was about ten years old and expresses himself through his art. When we look at Kenji’s paintings we can see his love of life. They are a celebration of his triumph over adversity.
Kenji’s mother Mitsuko



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