This was an extraordinarily productive visit to one of the world’s largest hospital chains, the Tokushukai Group, and an important new ally to join the global fight against MS. This is a huge organization ($3.6 billion in annual revenue) with first-class facilities that include 66 hospitals. But the overwhelming impression left with me didn’t come from Tokushukai’s sheer size, but from something far deeper and more inspirational.
A photo with Dr. Tokuda which I will always
treasure. The respirator line is on the floor.
The organization’s founder, Dr. Tarao Tokuda, is simply one of the most extraordinary men that I have ever met or even heard about. Consider this: He is the Chairman of this vast organization, puts in a 16-hour day directing its operations, but he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). That means he is confined to a life-support apparatus requiring constant care, can only communicate by blinking. His body may have failed him, but his mind and will are as strong as ever. He continues to demonstrate his genuine care for the well being of mankind by making his private company into a not for profit organization.
After visiting with Dr. Tokuda and spending four days with his team and viewing their facilities, I can tell you that a major new force is joining the world-wide fight against MS. I also learned that Dr. Tokuda has watched and read Ruth’s Story on www.ReformedMS.org, listened to other MS patients tell their stories, and he was very impressed. During my visit, I presented several recommendations on behalf of Reformed MS to the Tokushukai Group for their consideration. These include inviting Dr. Zamboni to participate in clinical trials with Tokushukai – Dr. Zamboni is tentatively agreeable – and inviting Canadian and American MS patients into the Japanese trials so that the differences between Asian and Caucasians can be studied. Reformed MS also recommended that Tokushukai-owned vascular clinics be set up in North America for local patient follow-up. They could also be joint-venture partnerships with local doctors or medical groups.
At each hospital I was greeted by
the General Director and his key staff.
In this respect, Reformed MS will be working with American and Canadian regulators, research teams and charitable foundation to support the Tokushukai CCSVI trials. If Japanese approval is received to test Canadians and Americans, Reformed MS will be organizing the recruiting these patients for the trials and assisting with some of the travel costs.
It was told me that Dr. Tokuda watching our videos and reading Ruth’s story on our website helped him decide to proceed further with this new treatment.
This is very big news, and it means that Dr. Zamboni’s Liberation Treatment for CCSVI now has the initial support of the world’s largest single-sector medical group.
Dr. Tokuda also invited me to address the two-day, bi-monthly meeting of his 350 managers and talk about our perspective of CCSVI and the life-changing benefits that Ruth and other patients have received from CCSVI.
All Sunday morning, November 28, was devoted to CCSVI. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Takao Suzuki, MD, Senior Executive Director. Dr. Suzuki has spent the last 35 years working with Dr. Tokuda dealing with the most critical management issues.
All present are key executives and department heads.
The first presentation was by Shigeru Saito, MD, FACC, FSCAL, FAPSIC, FJCC, an interventional cardiologist. He gave a detailed medical overview of MS and CCSVI. Dr. Saito is Director Cardiology and Catheterization Laboratories, and is President of the Asian Pacific Society of Interventional Cardiology. I spoke on behalf of MS patients giving the patients’ and caregivers’ perspective to the medical audience. Tetsumasa Kamei, MD, FJSIM, Director and Chairman of Medicine of the Chigasaki Tokushukai Medical Center, discussed CCSVI as the Tokushukai’s chief neurologist. Dr. Suzuki did the wrap up.
Following the morning meeting, entirely dedicated to CCSVI, the presenters were taken to meet Dr. Tokuda. It was then that Dr. Tokuda announced his unconditional backing for the CCSVI clinical trials.
Ms. Ayako Nezu, a producer with the Japan Broadcasting Corp., also interviewed me at length.
The Tokushukai Group
The Company was started in 1973, under highly unusual circumstances. Dr. Tokuda took out a life insurance policy to guarantee the loan to build his first hospital because he had no collateral. He offered to kill himself if the loan was not repaid, with the proceeds from his insurance policy going to cover the loan. The bank actually accepted this proposal, but later dropped this requirement after the 4th hospital had been successfully completed.
It’s an amazing story – I later confirmed to be completely accurate – and it epitomizes Dr. Tokuda’s courage and commitment. (It’s a good thing Dr. Tokuda wasn’t living in North America!)
The two men in black are the two secretaries who help Dr. Tokuda to communicate by blinking. The other seven are all medical staff who work constantly.
This man is a true medical pioneer. He built the Tokushukai Group on the premise that patients’ interests always come first (as opposed to the institutions’ or the doctors’), and that all living beings are created equal and are entitled to the latest and best medical care. Dr. Tokuda pioneered two surgical procedures in Japan that are saving hundreds of lives every year. One is transplanting healthy portions of diseased kidneys and the other is surgically reducing oversized hearts. Before these two surgical procedures were introduced into Japan, hundreds of patients were dying because they were “incurable”. I met one grateful kidney recipient from Tokunoshima Island, a simple banana farmer who brought a load of his tasty bananas to the bimonthly management meeting of 350 Tokushukai executives and publicly expressed his gratitude for saving his life.
Tokushukai employs 2,500 full time doctors with a total staff of over 20,000 working in 65 hospitals in Japan and over two hundred clinics and other medical facilities. The Group is expanding worldwide and operates a state-of-the-art 1016 bed hospital in Sofia Bulgaria where hundreds of patients have received the Liberation treatment – including my wife, Ruth.
Dr. Tokuda is dedicated to the betterment of the health of humanity, and it is a privilege for us to work with him and put the full support of The Reformed MS team behind this effort.
The personal meeting with Dr. Tokuda ended with his invitation to return with Ruth in the spring for the next management meeting, when the cherry blossoms bloom. We are looking forward to being there.
After Dr. Tokuda announced his decision to proceed with
CCSVI trials he asked for a photo. It is noteworthy that one
hand is being held by Dr. Kamei, the neurologist, and the other by Steven. Dr. Suzuki,
the most senior executive is on the left and Dr. Saito is beside him.
On a personal note the hospitality and the care could not have been more generous. Mr. Takeshi Mori, Director of the Tokushukai Medical Assistance Team (NGO) was my personal interpreter and guide, and Mr. Ebi was my driver. Their top knee surgeon even attended to my torn ligament – and I’m sorry to say that I don’t have his name.