Japanese man with rare disorder honoured for helping others

CHIBA - A former sufferer of cyclic vomiting syndrome who supports patients of the condition has been selected by judges to receive a Symbols of Tomorrow award. The awards programme recognises young people who play important roles in the field of medical and health care.

Shun Emoto, 25, who was selected last November, said, "I hope the award will make people aware of cyclic vomiting syndrome and foster understanding of the disorder."

Emoto felt severe pain in his side and repeatedly vomited when he was a first-year primary school student in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture. From then on, he suffered attacks every week or two and missed school every time he had an episode.

When doctors could not find the cause of his disorder, Emoto thought, "Why only me?" Two years after the symptoms first appeared, he was diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome, a rare condition with only about 100 patients nationwide.

At the age of 18, when Emoto passed the entrance examination for the University of Tokyo, the attacks suddenly and entirely stopped. Emoto entered the university's medical department with the ambition to "save people who suffer from the same syndrome" and set up the Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Association Japan in February 2012, during his third year of university.

"I will provide resources to fight the disease as much as possible," said Emoto, who introduces doctors to sufferers and their families and translates American theses to convey the latest findings.

Because cyclic vomiting syndrome mostly develops in children, Emoto is urging parents to ask schoolteachers to understand the symptoms. He also talks to children about managing their schoolwork and preparing for attacks.

"I can truly understand the pain caused by cyclic vomiting syndrome because I also suffered from it," said Emoto, who is studying cures for rare diseases in a doctoral programme at the Graduate School of Health Sciences and Nursing at the University of Tokyo.

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