Photo of Dr. Alson Inaba
Dr. Alson Inaba

University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa’s clinical professor and Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children pediatric emergency specialist Dr. Alson Inaba received the first Innovation at Heart Award on June 18 from the American Heart Association at the AHA Gold Heart event in Dallas, Texas.

Inaba is known for figuring out that the Bee Gees disco hit song “Stayin’ Alive” has the ideal beat to correctly perform CPR. In 2005 he began using the song to teach UH John A. Burns School of Medicine medical students how to perform CPR.

According to an article from AHA News on the JABSOM website, Inaba hopes to update his CPR lesson by using Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.”

Inaba’s knack for entertaining started when his mother bought him a magic kit and told him to perform at a school Christmas party. His whole family got involved and they started putting magic shows on at family gatherings, small parties and weddings. Pretty soon they were traveling to the neighbor islands and to Japan.

This led to landing an opening act gig for David Copperfield. He learned that a good show required more than just magic tricks; he also needed dance routines stories and music.

In high school his interest in biology led him to study medicine. He graduated from Tufts University in 1987 when he realized incorporating magic made learning medicine fun.

Through advocacy, Inaba has helped increase CPR awareness throughout Hawai‘i. “Operation Stay’N Alive” has saved numerous lives since it was established more than a dozen years ago.

“If we can get the rest of the country and the world to recognize the vital importance of immediate bystander CPR, we could increase survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest,” Inaba said.


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