Monday, August 12, 1996

Name: Gary Miyama
Age: 42
Education: University of the Pacific; Kapiolani Community College
Occupation: Sonographer
Hobbies: Softball; fishing; outdoors.

Miyama helps save lives

A keen eye for the right pitch helped Gary Miyama attend the University of the Pacific on a baseball scholarship. Now, an eye for detail helps him save lives.

These days, while Miyama still finds time for softball or playing with his 18-month-old son, the bulk of his day is spent operating the ultrasound equipment at Kuakini Medical Center.

Miyama's reputation for excellence and readiness in medical emergencies recently earned him the honor of employee of the year in voting by Kuakini's medical staff.

Miyama shies away from the attention, preferring to devote his energies to keeping up with the rapidly changing technology of his field.

Contrary to what many view the job of a sonographer to be, Miyama does much more than tell parents-to-be whether to expect a boy or girl. In fact, he does very little of that at Kuakini.

He is more likely to be found helping locate a brain tumor or trying to spot a kidney stone or aneurysm in the array of dots and blobs on his computer screen.

"You'll make or break the diagnosis for the physician if you don't pick up something that's there," he said. "That's part of the reason why it's challenging. You need to really be able to recognize things."

As Miyama described it, the ultrasound emits high-frequency sound waves that "bounce off your organs," forming a computerized picture that looks much like a weather map.

"It's quite different from just taking an X-ray," said Dr. David Sakuda of Kuakini's radiology department. "They have to correlate the symptoms and the findings."

Miyama never expected to find himself standing over an operating table, although at one point he considered becoming a dentist. He majored in chemistry and liberal studies at UOP in Stockton, Calif.

"Then I realized that I didn't want to spend my time sticking my hand in somebody's mouth," he said.

But he doesn't mind being in surgery.

"It's fun," he said. "The other day I was in surgery, localizing a pancreatic tumor. That doesn't bother me. I was never the squeamish type."

Sakuda said it's no surprise why Miyama was selected as employee of the year.

"It's just his general attitude when asked to do something," Sakuda said. "He's never complaining."

That's in addition to the fact that he's basically just a nice guy, Sakuda said.

Jean Christensen, Star-Bulletin

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