Hideyo Noguchi was famous throughout the world as a bacteriologist and physician. His life, however, was not without pain. This year is the 120th anniversary of Dr. Noguchi’s birth. On this occasion, we look back upon his enthusiastic and courageous efforts to improve medicine.
Hideyo Noguchi was born in 1876, the first son of a farming family, in a town in present-day Inawashiro Town, Fukushima Prefecture.
The burn on young Hideyo’s his left hand, also wounded him psychologically. But in 1892, his fingers, which had been fused together as a result of the burn, were surgically separated. Dr. Kanae Watanabe successfully performed the operation at Kaiyo Hospital in present day Aizuwakamatsu City. The operation inspired Noguchi to become a doctor.
After the operation, Noguchi became an assistant in the Kaiyo Hospital dispensary. He was self-taught, studying extraordinarily hard, late into the night. He eventually passed the exam to enter medical school.
Although he was busy, Noguchi met a student at Aizu Girls’ High School named Yone Yamauchi, who greatly affected his future. This love did not bear fruit in the end, but even after going to America to study and meeting his future wife Mary, Noguchi never forgot his first love.
Many people supported Hideyo in his efforts to learn. One such person was Morinosuke Chiwaki, a dentist who was six years older than Hideyo. Dr. Chiwaki’s financial assistance and moral support was crucial in helping Hideyo to obtain a license to practice medicine.
After completing his studies, Noguchi began his practice at Juntendo Hospital. Later, he became an assistant at the Epidemiological Research Institute, beginning his career as a bacteriologist. Noguchi then went to the U.S. to study. He achieved great success at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, creating a pure culture of syphilitic spirochetes before he died of yellow fever in Accra, west Africa. People revere Dr. Noguchi as a medical saint. His achievements and zeal continue to inspire, even today.