The surgeon who performed the coronary artery bypass on Emperor Akihito admitted he felt intense pressure before the Feb. 18 operation and felt he would be “criticized as a perpetrator of a great crime if I made even one mistake,” he recalled.
So, Dr. Atsushi Amano said he was immensely relieved to see a smiling emperor and Empress Michiko disembarking their airplane after their visit to Britain on May 20.
Amano, a professor at Juntendo University and the lead surgeon of a medical team for the emperor’s heart surgery at the University of Tokyo Hospital, told The Asahi Shimbun on May 22 he was delighted to see the imperial couple descending the steps of their plane.
“I thought I’ve done it; the surgery was a success; it was a total victory,” Amano recalled.
He added: “I was determined I would perform my best operation so I wouldn’t have any regrets.”
The emperor left the hospital on March 4 and returned to his official duties on April 10.
Amano told the emperor and empress after Akihito left the hospital that he “will get better when the average temperature exceeds 15 degrees.”
However, the emperor’s health improved in early spring, even as the bad weather and cooler temperatures lingered. Amano was even convinced that the emperor could fly to Britain to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 60th anniversary on the throne, he recalled.
Akihito, who had regained enough strength to even play tennis for a short duration, told Amano earlier this month, “I want to improve my (tennis) serve.”
“The emperor was a model patient,” Amano said. “He saw the surgery as a positive one, tackled his rehabilitation well and has a new purpose in life. I am grateful that I was part of his operation.”
Amano was born in 1955. After graduating from the medical department at Nihon University, he worked for Kameda Medical Center in Chiba Prefecture. He has performed many bypass surgeries. Amano was made an honorary citizen of the city of Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, earlier this month for his successful surgery on the emperor.
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