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Friday, January 28, 2011

Charlie Teo - Neurosurgeon

Charlie Teo is a famous Australian neurosurgeon. He rides to work on his motor bike every day and has become known as something of a miracle worker. This has angered his peers who say he is too radical and offers false hope to patients who have incurable brain tumours located in dangerous places. He takes the cases his fellow neurosurgeons consider hopeless and this has caused ill feeling. Teo resigned from the Neurological Society of Australasia and said that delaying a patient's death from an incurable brain cancer is definitely worthwhile.

Now he's in trouble again. To raise money for children's cancer research, last October Teo offered as a prize - a whole day to be spent in his company which included watching him perform brain surgery. It raised $1,500 for the charity. But University of Sydney public health professor Simon Chapman has written a scathing critique about it in the British Medical Journal. Now the executive director of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, John Quinn has said that he doesn't like the idea at all, he's worried about the privacy and vulnerability of the patient and says that "surgery is not a spectacle".

Wife and 4 daughters

Doctor Teo said he offers similar auction prizes about 4 times a year. The winner can stand beside the patient during anaesthesia and recovery but observed the procedure itself on a screen in the same room, about three or four metres away from the patient. He said that professor Chapman's views were valid - "I've often thought about it myself" he said. About 10 per cent of his patients refuse permission and there is no coercion. Most people who won the prize gave it to a young person in the family who was thinking of studying medicine - it gave them the opportunity to see surgery first hand.
Dr Teo was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) this week for his services to medicine.