U.H. Scientist Honored - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

U.H. Scientist Honored

By Walter Makaula

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The University of Hawaii professor credited with making hundreds of thousands of couples around the world parents.

Doctor Ryuzo Yanagimachi will be 80 years old this summer but his colleagues say, he's personally responsible for many other people's birthdays around the world, and sang Happy Birthday to him anyway.

He is well respected by his colleagues.

"He single handedly established the ground work, the scientific ground work for test tube babies," said Dr. W. Steven Ward of the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

But when Dr. Yanagimachi first started his work in creating an artificial atmosphere where a sperm and egg could conceive, many thought he was crazy, including one of the leading scientists in the field.

"He thought I'm stupid, because a sperm can enter an egg by itself," said Dr Yanagimachi.

But that was a long time ago. Then about five years ago, "Dr Yana" as he is commonly called, gained notoriety for his work in transferring a gene found in glowing jelly fish to mice.

Today he is not only loved by the scientific and medical community, but by the millions of people who have not been able to start families on their own.

"Nobody thought that they could recreate that very specific environment in a test tube." said Ward, "But Yana in 1964 or 65 thought there should be a way, so he did it."

In just the year 2000 alone, 200,000 test tube babies were born.

Although he had years of research and medical experience under his belt, Dr. Yanagimachi never had any children of his own.

"Actually I couldn't have them" He said. "I was too late to start having babies." He added, "But all the children born by artificial reproduction, are kind of my babies."

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