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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Hear from Tomoaki Kato, MD, MBA

May 31, 2023, 17:38 PM by Anna Shults

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! We're taking this opportunity to highlight our incredible Asian American members and celebrating their contributions to transplant

Tomoaki Kato, MDTomoaki Kato, MD, MBA
Columbia University

Why did you decide to pursue transplant?

 When I was finishing surgery residency in Japan, I wanted to come to the US for fellowship. I wanted to choose the specialty that were underperformed in Japan so I can justify my move.  Transplantation was very rarely done in Japan back then because brain death was not well accepted.

Who has been your biggest influence?

I started to learn transplant after I decided to do transplant fellowship. I loved it. Dr. Starzl was the biggest inspiration pursuing the career. I wrote to him and he replied when I was entering this field. We kept in touch and I asked him advise for the career choice from time to time.

What does being an Asian American in transplant mean to you?

Paying attention to meticulous detail is in Asian heritage. I believe it helped me in my surgical career. We also believe that we are all naturally trained to be a good surgeons because we grow up using chop sticks!

AAPI heritage month is a reminder that this country is made of a diverse racial and ethnic mixture of people. The diversity is what makes this country powerful and great. To respect and understand each other regardless of what is happening in geopolitical environment is extremely important nowadays when major conflicts are becoming reality.