Intended for healthcare professionals


Tomisaku Kawasaki: identified and named Kawasaki disease

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 05 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3091
  1. Barbara Kermode-Scott
  1. Vancouver Island, Canada
  1. kermodeb{at}
Photo credit: Tsubara Kawasaki

Not many physicians have a disease named after them. Tomisaku (“Tomi”) Kawasaki, who has died at the age of 95, was one of the few. Kawasaki disease, a rare inflammatory autoimmune disorder found in young children, is his namesake.1 In recent months, this syndrome has been in the global media spotlight as paediatricians discuss its similarity to the complications of covid-19 in children.

“Kawasaki was an icon in the paediatric world,” Jane Burns, professor and director of the Kawasaki Disease Research Centre at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, told The BMJ. “Dr K was an amazing cheerleader and advocate for research on the condition that bears his name. Despite his rock star status, he was humble and generous with his time to physicians and parents alike. He was clearly motivated by a deep love of all children.”

Life and career

Kawasaki was the youngest of seven brothers and sisters. His parents named him Tomisaku, meaning to make a fortune, in the hope that he …

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