Tom Teranishi of Vancouver is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Medical category

TOM TERANISHI NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

by Gerald Haslam

Photo credit: Nick Procaylo/PNG
Photo credit: Nick Procaylo/PNG

Tom was born in 1942 at a wartime internment camp for Japanese-Canadians. He had significant vision issues from birth, which later developed into retinopathy and macular degeneration, undergoing bilateral cataract and corneal transplant surgeries. Today he has about five per cent functional vision with light sensitivity.

There were early signs in his mid-teens and he began suffering from poor renal function by 1978 and was put under the care of a kidney specialist. In 1983 he was put on hemo-dialysis and in 1984 he was fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant, which served him well for 30 years. Three years ago his kidney functions were decreasing so he was back on hemo-dialysis by 2014 followed by a second transplant in 2015.

None of this stopped Tom from getting an education and pursuing a career. He received B.A. and Masters of Social Work degrees from UBC and began full-time work at Shaughnessy Hospital in 1968, helping war veterans and others needing rehabilitation and support. When the hospital closed in 1993, Tom transferred to VGH, where he worked in the physical rehab unit and continued teaching and supervising social work students and future doctors.

His deteriorating eyesight and other health issues forced Tom to retire from hospital work in 2004 and from his activity as a private practitioner in 2013, but none of that has prevented him from aiding a rich diversity of community organizations as a volunteer. It’s a long list starting with Kits Neighbourhood House in his university days, then later goes on to include the Kinsmen Society, Lions Society, Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society, Metro Vancouver Cross-Cultural Seniors Network, and the Association for the Equality of Blind Canadians.

He has travelled widely, been a curler, bowler, hiker and cross-country skier. As his friends say of Tom, admiringly, there’s not much he won’t try.

Tom will receive his award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Randene Neill interviews Tom Teranishi – watch live on Global News Hour at 6pm May 4th.

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Tom Teranishi – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Tom Teranishi – click to view on News1130 website>

 

Courage Awards – categories

Six Courage Awards presented every year

The annual Courage To Come Back Awards recognize abilities, celebrate differences and give centre stage to six British Columbians who have overcome tremendous challenges, yet reach out to help others in our province. They are our loved ones, our neighbours, our friends, who have faced seemingly–insurmountable odds and who have come through with courage, strength, and a drive to help others.

Courage recipients show us that people can walk again despite the predictions of some of the best medical minds. They teach us that disabled does not mean unable. They prove that hearing voices in one’s head does not mean a lifetime in hospital. These are valuable members of our community despite injury or illness: they are role models.

Addiction: A person who has demonstrated inspirational achievements overcoming the challenges of addiction and who has given back to his or her community. Sobriety must have been maintained for at least the past five years.

Medical: A person who has demonstrated inspirational achievements overcoming the challenges of a serious medical condition, and who has given back to his or her community.

Mental Health: A person who has demonstrated inspirational achievements overcoming the challenges of living with a mental illness, and who has given back to his or her community.

Physical Rehabilitation: A person who has demonstrated inspirational achievements following major trauma or injury which has required extensive physical rehabilitation, and who has given back to his or her community.

Social Adversity: A person who has demonstrated inspirational achievements in the face of abuse, poverty, discrimination or other significant adversity, and who has given back to his or her community. (In the case of new British Columbians, it may be as a result of political upheaval or war experienced before settling here.)

Youth: A young person, under the age of 22 years as of December 31, 2015, who has demonstrated inspirational achievements overcoming illness, injury, addiction or social adversity, and who has given back to his or her community.

The Courage To Come Back Awards will be presented on May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West.  Buy tickets online today.

To nominate someone who inspires you, visit couragetocomeback.ca.