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Cherry trees honor twin sisters from Japan who died from lung disease

Suzu Kaneda had double-lung transplant here
Posted at 2:13 AM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-23 09:21:21-04

CINCINNATI - There are some new blooms in Eden Park in memory of a little girl whose parents came halfway around the world in a last-ditch effort to save her life.

When they are full grown, the two cherry trees will provide shade and spring beauty outside Krohn Conservatory. They are already about 2 years old -- a birthday Suzu Kaneda was fighting so hard to see.

The little girl from Japan celebrated that birthday in Cincinnati, where she received a double-lung transplant at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2016. Pulmonary vein stenosis had already taken her twin sister Saya just shy of her first birthday

Alas, Suzu also lost her fight, but the Japan America Society of Greater Cincinnati wanted to leave a remembrance in their honor.

“The Kaneda twins fought bravely for their lives and as a result of Suzuka's brief time with us here in Cincinnati, they helped bring our Japan American community together,” said Yoshitaka Takeuchi.  

“The sakura blossom is very symbolic in Japan,” said Sheila Reich of the Japan America Society. “It represents the fragility, as well as the beauty of life. And the sakura blossoms only last a very short time and then they go away.”

The Japan America Society had coordinated volunteers to help her family with everything from translating, to cooking meals, and offering rides. Suzu's family had hoped to spend a year here - getting their little girl strong enough to go back home.

But Suzu died from complications of her transplant and disease in December 2016.

“I think, as a community, it was a sense of pride that we were a place that they decided to come and bring their most precious child here,” Reich said. “And I think, of course, all of Cincinnati really came around that story and really wanted to make that family as much at home as possible.”

Suzu’s family said they would like to come back to Cincinnati some day and sit among the trees that honor their twins.