Derek and Hatsumi Smith, owners of Matcha Time Cafe, a popular Japanese tea shop and sushi cafe in Historic Ellicott City, Maryland, are in a serious crisis and need our help!
On June 27, following a long flight to Japan, Derek suffered a massive heart attack while on board a train in Tokyo on their way to Hatsumi's hometown for her father's funeral. Derek's heart stopped completely. Watching in horror as his face turned blue, Hatsumi believed he was dead. She held his hand and called him to come back to her. She thought she had lost her husband as well as her father!
Emergency crews responded immediately, hauling him onto the platform where EMT's shocked his heart twice. Derek was taken by ambulance to a Tokyo hospital and underwent emergency heart surgery to unblock an artery.
Doctors told Hatsumi it was a miracle he survived. He spent a week in the hospital, including several days in the ICU. He was discharged on July 5th, leaving only Hatsumi to care for him while they are stranded in Japan.
Though he is in a weakened state, Derek's medical prognosis is fairly good so far, but he will need to undergo cardiac rehabilitation in Japan before he can fly back to the United States. What was intended to be a one week trip to Japan is now turning into a month to six weeks, and the bills are adding up fast.
The Smiths are now renting a temporary furnished apartment in Tokyo, as Hatsumi singlehandedly must take care of Derek 24/7, prepare a strict diet, and take him to his rehab appointments. They will have to pay for all of this out of pocket, along with many other things not covered by insurance.
Meanwhile, because she cannot be there, Hatsumi has had to temporarily close Matcha Time Cafe most of the time. It is a business she opened in 2013 which has a large following of loyal customers and draws many visitors to Ellicott City. (It is operating intermittently with a limited menu; please check the Matcha Time Facebook page for current open days/hours.)
Hatsumi has worked tirelessly literally from morning till night almost every day for six years to make the cafe and gift shop a unique oasis of Japanese food and culture, personally greeting everyone who walks in with a gracious smile as she prepares tea, sushi, ramen and other Japanese delicacies.
Derek has been Hatsumi's supportive rock and her biggest fan, helping in every aspect of the cafe. From the initial interior construction to doing payroll to cooking ramen to hauling equipment and food to events, Derek has always worked hard to help his wife make Matcha Time Cafe successful.
For now, due to Derek's medical condition, Matcha Time Cafe is open only occasionally, with a limited menu, and its future is uncertain.
Derek, an IT systems consultant who typically works six days a week, will now be unable to work for an unknown period of time. Derek is multi-talented and very handy with tools, and could often be found assisting family, friends, and neighbors in need of a helping hand.
The Smith's Maryland medical insurance should eventually cover most of the actual medical costs incurred in the Japanese hospital, (after they return and fill out mountains of paperwork and claims forms.)
However, there are many costs that will never be reimbursed which Derek and Hatsumi have to pay for out of pocket, such as the temporary apartment, food, utilities, transportation to and from Derek's rehab appointments, airfare, and many items Japanese hospitals charge for, such as hospital gown rental.
Everything in Tokyo is much more expensive than in Maryland, and the Smiths are now fearing the very real possibility that they may be wiped out financially.
They have gone from two income streams to ZERO, and so far owe approximately $20,000 to the Japanese hospital alone, which must be paid now.
Hatsumi and Derek have made invaluable contributions to the life and fabric of the Historic Ellicott City community. They are wonderful people who have kept their little cafe running despite the recent floods, but this may be too much for them. They could lose everything they have worked so hard for.
Please make a contribution to help them through this incredibly difficult, stressful time so they can return to the USA as soon as possible and try to restore some semblance of normalcy to their lives.
Truly, every little bit helps and is very much appreciated. Check back here for updates. Thank you!
- Angela Cheng
Organizer and beneficiary
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more