Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Tang Yuzhi

Tang Yuzhi is the national old Chinese medicine expert academic experience succession work instructor, “capital national medical master”.

Tang Yuzhi, male, Han nationality, born in July 1926, is a chief physician and researcher of the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, who has been practicing Chinese medicine since 1946, and is the instructor of the inheritance work of the national old Chinese medicine experts and the “Capital National Medical Master”.

Tang Yuzhi

He performed successful surgery on Mao Zedong with his skillful technique of removing obstacles with golden needles.

He participated in the establishment of a modern TCM ophthalmology hospital and ophthalmology institute, organized the establishment of the Ophthalmology Branch of the Chinese Society of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Ophthalmology Committee of the Chinese Society of Integrative Medicine, and founded the Chinese Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine Ophthalmology.

He has trained not only a number of graduate students but also numerous primary care doctors.

In the 1980s, Tang Yuzhi, honorary president of the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, proposed four grand wishes for the development of TCM ophthalmology: to build a modern TCM ophthalmology hospital and ophthalmology institute; to organize the establishment of the Ophthalmology Branch of the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine; to organize the establishment of the Ophthalmology Specialty Committee of the Chinese Association of Integrative Medicine; and to establish a first-class publication, the Chinese Journal of TCM Ophthalmology. As a master of Chinese ophthalmology since the founding of New China, Tang Yuzhi’s achievements are not easy to come by.

In 1963, Tang Yuzhi brought the improved “cataract needle paddling technique” to the rural areas of Guangxi and Fujian to treat farmers, and held several study courses to train many local ophthalmology professionals. At that time, Tang Yuzhi was already very influential in the field of ophthalmology. It was no coincidence that he was chosen to operate on Chairman Mao.

In 1963, with the support of Lu Zhijun, the president of the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (now the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine), Tang responded to the Party’s call to go to the grassroots and treat the peasants. From 1970 to 1971, he went to Longxi and Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, and engaged in the research and promotion of cataract surgery, and held several study courses. By then, Tang was already very influential in the field of ophthalmology.

The improved cataract needle dialysis was preferred for its small surgical incision and few postoperative complications. The study was appraised and unanimously approved by the nation’s leading ophthalmologists organized by the Ministry of Health in 1966. Tang Yuzhi performed many surgeries for party and government leaders, restoring their sight and gaining a reputation for motherland medicine.

Tang Yuzhi’s deepest memory is for Chairman Mao Zedong.

In 1974, Tang Yuzhi was 48 years old and was the attending doctor and head of the ophthalmology department of Guang’anmen Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. One day before the Spring Festival, he was informed to see Chairman Mao. Chairman Mao was suffering from senile cataracts, his vision had declined, and he had difficulty reading books, and could only see his fingers vaguely in front of him. This time there were seven or eight ophthalmologists from all over the country, but the Chinese physician was one of them, Tang Yu.

After several consultations, everyone agreed that Chairman Mao’s cataracts needed surgical treatment. Tang also learned that Mao had chronic pulmonary heart disease and had gone into shock two years ago; he had a bad cough and no swallowing reaction after coughing. In response to this situation, we repeatedly discussed the surgical plan. At that time, Western doctors removed cataracts with large surgical incisions, and coughing might cause surgical accidents, resulting in incision rupture, corneal dehiscence, atrial fluid, iris and vitreous spillage, which was very dangerous.

The surgery used by Tang Yuzhi back then was the “cataract pinch operation”, which he had carefully researched and improved. Since 1958, Tang has researched the cataract pinch operation from incision site to postoperative complications, and proved that it is scientific to make the incision 4 mm outside the corneal edge.

The operation takes only a few minutes, the incision is only 2 mm, no sutures are required, and the technique is mature; it is more suitable for elderly and frail patients. By 1974, before operating on Chairman Mao, Tang Yuzhi had successfully performed thousands of cataract pinning procedures. Among them, the most difficult one was the surgery of Prince Binnu, the former Prime Minister of Cambodia. The operation was successful because of Tang’s skillful surgical technique. The success of Prince Binnu’s surgery signified that Tang’s surgical level had reached a high level of mirroring at that time.

After more than half a year of preparation, in 1975, the central government decided that Tang would perform cataract surgery on Mao Zedong, and on July 23, at about 11:00 p.m., Tang naturally asked the President, “Are you ready for the surgery?” The chairman said firmly, “Yes!”

The operating room was located in Chairman Mao’s study. On the day of the operation, the chairman was very cooperative. Because of Tang Yuzhi’s skill, the operation was finished in a short time. When Tang Yuzhi wrapped the gauze around the Chairman’s eyes, he asked the Chairman, “The operation is done, do you have any discomfort?” The president said, “I thought I hadn’t started yet!” A little after midnight, when Tang Yuzhi heard Chairman Mao Zedong wake up, he rushed to his side. He heard what Mao was saying, but Tang Yuzhi could not understand, so he asked, “What are you saying, Chairman? I didn’t understand.” The President then asked Zhang Yufeng to bring paper, two eyes wrapped, and wrote: “Is there not a proud feeling like the old days, flowers blossom and flowers fall two by two, why is the period of tears spilled Jiangnan rain, and cry for the people of the Jian’er.” This is a poem by Lu Xun, this poem has “flowers blossom and flowers fall two by two”.

Tang Yuzhi asked the President to give him this poem, and the President signed it and gave it to Tang Yuzhi. Now the Chairman’s handwriting is treasured in the Revolutionary Military Museum. Soon, Mao Zedong was able to read documents and books by himself.

Inheriting and promoting the Golden Needle Barrier Technique

He researched the ciliary body flat incision and developed the “Golden Needle Technique”, which solved the problem of surgical site and overcame the recent complication of glaucoma from the ancient cataract needle surgery.

As early as the 1950s, Tang discussed with his classmates at the university about the development direction of Chinese ophthalmology and the mystery of the ancient method of the Golden Needle Technique, and started animal experiments on the Golden Needle Technique in 1958 and clinical research in 1959. In the early 1960s, the technique was presented at the First Conference on Integrative Chinese and Western Medicine held in Shanghai. In his research work on the inheritance and development of the ancient Golden Needle Technique, Tang mainly solved the problems of surgical incision sites and postoperative complications of cataract needle plucking.

He was the first to pioneer the use of the flat part of the ciliary body as an incision for inner eye surgery. Through his in-depth research and study of modern anatomy, pathology and physiology, Tang proposed a new view of the ciliary body flat as an incision site for internal eye surgery. After long-term follow-up and post-operative histological observation of the eye, it was proved that the view that surgery on the flat part of the ciliary body is safe and feasible is based on science, and fundamentally solved the possibility of glaucoma after cataract needle dialysis, making a certain contribution to the development of ophthalmology theory.

Chinese ophthalmology is an important part of the treasury of Chinese medicine. Tang Yuzhi has made outstanding achievements in TCM ophthalmology and is well known at home and abroad. He has served as the chairman of the Ophthalmology Branch of the Chinese Society of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the chairman of the Chinese Society of Integrative Ophthalmology, the standing member of the Chinese Medical Association’s Ophthalmology Society, the chief editor of the Encyclopedia of Chinese Medicine: Chinese Ophthalmology sub-volume, and the honorary president of the European Society of Chinese and Western Ophthalmology.

He attended the 25th International Congress of Ophthalmology held in Rome, Italy, and hosted the satellite meeting of the 26th International Congress of Ophthalmology in Beijing in March 1990. This is the first time that Chinese medicine in the field of clinical medicine won one of the three national scientific and technological progress awards.

Combining Chinese and Western medicine to build the best eye hospital

The establishment of the Eye Hospital is one of his four ambitions, reflecting his love for the ophthalmology business of Chinese medicine and his concern for the people.

The Eye Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine was established through the efforts of Tang Yuzhi. The reason was that the ward building of Guang’anmen Hospital was newly built, and at that time, due to the great influence of ophthalmology in the country, many patients, including patients from all over the world, came to the hospital to grant a few more wards, but at that time, for various reasons, it was not granted. Tang Yuzhi then went to the then Minister of Health, Cui Yue Li, and after much effort, the eye hospital project was approved in 1985.

In early December 1999, Indonesian President Wahid visited China and came to see Tang Yuzhi for eye care. Because the eye hospital had not been built at that time and the conditions were poor, Tang Yuzhi had suggested him to visit several hospitals in China with the most superior conditions for western medicine. As a result, after inspecting these hospitals, Wahid said, “The eye hospital is in poor condition, but I am here to find a doctor, I am not here to find good conditions.”

At Wahid’s insistence, Tang Yuzhi and the medical staff of the eye hospital worked together to give the president a more comprehensive eye examination, and in late December President Wahid officially invited Tang Yuzhi to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, to treat his eye disease.

Tang Yuzhi treated the president with Chinese medicine for a month or so, and his condition showed some improvement. Later, he was invited to Indonesia to treat Wahid for more than a month, and achieved better results. This event not only expanded the influence of TCM in Indonesia and Singapore and other foreign countries, but also expanded the influence of the eye hospital in China. This incident made the national leaders pay attention to TCM ophthalmology as well, which accelerated the development of the eye hospital.

When Tang Yuzhi mentions the eye hospital, he will proudly say: “The characteristics of the eye hospital is simply the combination of Chinese and Western medicine, that is to say, what Western medicine has, the eye hospital should also have. Eye hospitals already have a lot, eye hospitals also have to have a lot of others do not have, that is, some things passed down from the ancestors, that is, Chinese ophthalmology should be organically combined with Western medicine, learn from each other, help each other, which is like a tiger with wings, to treat patients up with many tricks.”

The eye hospital has continued to grow and develop under the efforts of Yuzhi Tang and his team.

Not only has Tang trained a number of graduate students, but he has also trained numerous primary care doctors. He teaches by example and practices by himself, setting an example for his students with his own noble medical ethics.

After 1978, Tang Yuzhi was engaged in teaching postgraduate students in ophthalmology combining Chinese and Western medicine, and the combination of Chinese and Western medicine was his most important feature. He believes that Chinese medicine and Western medicine have their own merits, so while he prescribes medicine in the clinic, he will patiently tell you, “Don’t break the treatment of Western medicine, with my Chinese medicine, your disease will get better faster.”

He can also skillfully use western medical examination techniques and modern knowledge of herbal pharmacology to dispatch prescriptions and use medicines, often with miraculous results. The first lesson he gave to his students was to ask them to learn to behave before doing anything. To his own students, he often talks about his own frustrations and lessons in scientific research and medical work, without using his achievements to cover up the lessons. He believes that behind the achievements and honors, there are profound lessons. He is also able to constantly go hunting for new knowledge and then apply it to the clinic as fast as possible, showing his students how to apply it to the clinic. All this is to let students take less detours, learn lessons and avoid mistakes.

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