Tokai Medical Products

Historical Episode

It all began from an ardent desire to save their daughter.

A single momentous episode led to the founding of T.M.P.

It began when the second daughter (Yoshimi) of the former president Nobumasa Tsutsui and his wife Yoko was found to have a congenital heart disease. In an all-out effort to save her, the parents visited prestigious hospitals throughout the country. Despite their efforts, when she was 9 years old she received a final diagnosis that the disease was impossible to correct surgically with modern medicine. Nevertheless, they refused to give up and sought to have her treated overseas, until they were forced to accept the fact that it was impossible for Yoshimi to undergo an operation, even in the United States.

The family had been saving heavily for Yoshimi' s potential treatment. Now that there was no hope for surgery for her, they first considered donating the funds they' d saved to an institution involved in heart disease research. As they were discussing the issue with the chief physician, he offered an unexpected suggestion: "Why not put your efforts into researching an artificial heart?" An artificial heart might help their daughter, but was this really a development that was within the realm of possibility?

The doctor continued: "10 years of continuous research might be enough to create a perfect artificial heart. Even if it is not possible, your research at the very least would contribute to the progress of medicine. Using the funds for that purpose would surely bring you some satisfaction." And with those words, they decided to enter the world of medicine.

From artificial heart development to an IABP balloon catheter

Although completely unfamiliar with the world of medicine, they began studying from scratch and worked toward developing an artificial heart while participating in study meetings on medical materials. Initially, they focused their efforts at the level of individual research, but in 1981, they founded Tokai Medical Products. This step gave them a way to obtain research grants from the government and public institutions. The development of their artificial heart reached the stage of animal experiments, but the realization that producing a device suitable for human use would take over 10 times more in financial and human resources than their previous work, they were reluctantly forced to give up their dream.

At about the same time, a great deal of serious discussion was taking place among medical professionals regarding accidents with the IABP balloon catheter. At the time, it was made in the United States only, and its size was not properly adapted for the Japanese. As a result, it often gave rise to complications. There were other problems as well, such as the fact that the catheter was rigid and could not always reach the target location, making treatment impossible and causing accidents when the balloon ruptured during use.

Although it would require advanced technology to develop a new IABP balloon catheter, and although naysayers said it was not possible to produce it in Japan, the company persevered and, after repeated efforts, succeeded in developing the first Japanese IABP balloon catheter using the know-how accumulated during the artificial heart research work.

"Save One More Life"

The IABP balloon catheter was launched in the winter of 1989. However, this IABP balloon catheter was not intended for therapeutic use, and could not be used to save the life of Yoshimi, who was still suffering from serious heart disease. Nevertheless, Yoshimi expressed great joy at the fact that her parents had taken the impetus of her illness to successfully produce a catheter that could help patients.

Then one day, after returning from an IABP business trip, Mr. Nobumasa visited Yoshimi in the hospital and told her: "Today, OO Hospital adopted our catheter and used it." Yoshimi said joyfully: "That means we saved one more life," as if the life saved had been her own.

Sadly, Yoshimi passed away in December 1991, but her parents' strong desire to develop a safe medical device and a catheter for the sake of their daughter has now been translated into a desire to save patients, and is the foundational story behind the inception of the company motto and philosophy established when it was founded: "Save As Many Lives As Possible".