This is about a cardiac surgeon who has some unique experience as a medical professor.
Original text from a half of the article, Front Runner, in a weekend extra “be on Saturday” of Asahi Shimbun, with English translation.

朝日新聞の土曜日別冊be on Saturdayのフロントランナーから、記事の前半の原文と、英訳です。



Self-made Surgeon Challenges to be the Best


Atsushi Amano (57), Professor, Cardiovascular Surgery, Juntendo University Hospital


Only a cardiac monitor sounded, beep, beep, beep in the quiet operating room, attended by ten medical staff.

Sat on a small chair beside the patient, Professor Amano inserted an ultrasonic knife into the patient’s chest, cut open longitudinally.  He peeled off “internal mammary artery”, some two millimeters in diameter, running up and down in the chest, little by little, carefully with the utmost attention.

This artery would become the lifeline that secures the life of the patient, replacing the coronary artery that can no longer send blood to the heart muscle.  There lay the reason he treated it with such care.


It is Juntendo University Hospital near Ochanomizu station, Tokyo.  The off-pump coronary-artery bypass surgery was in progress, stitching up arteries while the heart was beating.  When two hours had passed, he confirmed that the blood was flowing well into the arteries, thanks to his brilliant and prompt handling.  It is the same method as the surgery he conducted on the Emperor in February.  While his name has sprung to fame since then, he maintains his regular attitude of always doing his best.


He entered the operation room at 9:26 in the morning.  There were three patients waiting for him.  When the first surgery finished, he moved on to the next room.  His lunch was but three muscat grapes and some snack food during a short break.  He finished the third operation, including an intricate artificial valve surgery,  after the clock struck seven.


Such a state of war preparation is an everyday affair.  When he lived in Chiba prefecture, he brought in changes of clothes for a week and stayed overnight at the hospital.  He moved to Tokyo this year, but he goes home to sleep for a short period of time.
“In the hospital, I can be at ease and never tired.” he said.


He has unique experience as a cardiac surgeon.  He graduated from Nihon University School of Medicine in 1983 and he assumed his professorship without taking up the positions of lecturer and associate professor.  He didn’t train himself abroad, being genuinely “Made in Japan”, opening up each new path of his life with his skills.  Already, he has conducted 6000 heart surgeries.


He felt that he didn’t belong in the medical school organization that has a pyramid system in each special field with a professor at the top.  The professor takes care of employment while deciding the hospital to work for.  “When I was a medical resident, I saw my senior surgeons who didn’t engage in any potentially fatal operation, which discouraged me from working in a school,” he said.


After working as a medical intern in a hospital in Tokyo, he found a position in the cardiovascular surgery unit of Kameda Medical Center, Kamogawa, Chiba prefecture, where he expected to experience a lot of operations.  The doctor, who had returned from the US, left bypass surgery in hands of young surgeons.


He left the hospital in 1991 and found New Tokyo Hospital, Matsudo, Chiba prefecture, which was newly establishing cardiovascular surgery unit, through a medical recruiting magazine.  In response to his phone call, a director of the hospital remembered the name of the young man who actively asked questions at an academic conference.

It didn’t take a long time to contribute to improving the reputation of this hospital out of obscurity with his successful surgeries.  Here he started the off-pump procedure which then has rapidly spread throughout Japan before the rest of the world.


What has spurred him on is a desire to become the heart surgeon second to none.  He is candid in that he speaks straightforwardly without flattering himself or others.  His hero is the wrestler Antonio Inoki and he enjoys a pinball game, showing his venturesome spirit.

“Image your future and what you desire to be. Have a will to become the top surgeon”, he inspires young doctors.
I expect the Japanese medical community to provide many chances to any eminent talent.  It should not regard the case of Professor Amano as an exception.

By Fumikazu Asai