Bernard Simon, 87, a physician who treated women disfigured by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and helped lay the foundation for plastic surgery in Japan, died Aug. 1 at Mount Sinai Hospital here. The cause of death was not disclosed.
He had been associated with Mount Sinai for 60 years before retiring in 1992. He had been chief of the hospital's plastic surgery division from 1965 to 1979. He also was a clinical professor of surgery emeritus at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
In 1955, Dr. Simon was one of three American surgeons to donate his skills in reconstructive surgery to 25 severely disfigured Japanese women dubbed the "Hiroshima maidens."
Internationally renowned in the medical world for his plastic surgery expertise, Dr. Simon was best known to the general public for operating on the Hiroshima maidens. The women survived the August 6, 1945 blast by the United States that killed 130,000 Hiroshima inhabitants and leveled the Japanese city that today remains a symbol of the destructive power of atomic weapons.
But searing heat from the bomb deeply scarred the women's eyelids and withered their limbs. The disfigurement was so profound they hid their faces behind veils when they went out.
The plight of the Hiroshima maidens was brought to the attention of Norman Cousins, then-editor of the Saturday Review of Literature. Cousins, along with other influential Americans and Japanese, arranged through a series of diplomatic maneuvers to have the 25 women flown to the United States for surgery.
The women, ages 8 to 22 at the time of the blast, were chosen from a group of about 80 for their amenability to surgery and ability to withstand multiple operations.
Dr. Simon and his colleagues, the late Drs. Arthur Barsky and Sidney Kahn, performed more than 140 operations over about 18 months on them to repair eyelids, resurface scarred faces and release hands that had contracted permanently because of the blast's effects.
The operations were successful at repairing much of the damage, though they could not restore the women to their pre-injury state.
In 1996, Dr. Simon was reunited with four of the Hiroshima maidens who attended a conference on international medical cooperation at Mount Sinai Hospital that marked the 41st anniversary of the Hiroshima maidens project.