A world-renowned neurosurgeon who criticized Dr. Charlie Teo’s surgical approach appeared to back down.
Appearance in Art joint investigation into 60 minutes and nine newspapersAmerican pediatric neurosurgeon Mark Suveidan questioned the Australian doctor’s approach to diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). A highly aggressive form of brain cancer is located in the middle brainstem, making it difficult to treat.
Talking to Sydney Morning HeraldProfessor Suweidan said there was no way such a tumor could be operated on because of where it was in the brain.
“(It’s) the part of the brain that decides when you breathe and when your heart beats,” he said.
“To go in and remove that area is to remove the very part of the brain that keeps you alive.”
However, this is what Dr. Teo did in the case of his former patient, four-year-old Nikolai Barman. Despite being diagnosed with incurable DIPG, Dr. Theo believed that surgery “could remove everything.”
Instead, Nikolai’s father, Prasantha Barman, said that despite draining his savings and retirement funds to pay for the surgery, his son could not eat, walk or talk on his own unless he blinked. Ten months after the operation, the tumor returned, and Nikolai soon died.
Although Prof. Suweidaneh appeared to be dismissive of Dr. Teo’s approaches in his 60 Minutes interview, a letter he sent to Dr. Teo after the broadcast stated that he respected Teo.
2GB presented Ben Fordham published the contents of the letter on Thursday.
“I respect you,” the email said.
“The realm of uncharted territory in neurosurgery is a lonely place.”
Theo’s former patients are coming to his defense
After the 60 Minutes episode of Dr. Theo aired on Sunday The neurosurgeon’s abilities have been scrutinized by public opinion and former patients.
Dr Teo has been accused of giving patients false hope and many patients have complained about the high cost of his surgeries.
Other former patients, however, credit Dr. Teo with saving their lives and say their experience was positive.
24-year-old Monica Lopresti believes that the surgeon saved her life. In May 2022, she was diagnosed with a benign cystic tumor in the middle of her brain, which began to affect her memory to the point where she forgot her own brother’s name.
After seven Sydney neurosurgeons refused to operate on her, Dr Teo agreed, she told news.com.au.
Ms Lopresti says Dr Theo explained the risks of death, paralysis and being in a vegetative state. She decided to continue the operation in Spain on July 21.
Commenting on the allegations, Mr Lopresti said that “to say that Dr Teo was giving false hope or robbing people. This is simply not true.”
“I didn’t live life. I was calling in sick all the time and I wasn’t having the quality of life I wanted.’
Theo defends himself
Dr Teo also defended his actions. Speaking to Tracey Grimshaw on Nine’s A Current Affairs program on Tuesday night, Dr Theo said he would never guarantee outcomes for patients.
“If I guarantee that there is no chance of blindness, I am wrong, it is misinformation,” he said.
“I don’t, you can’t do that and not get sued, somebody is going to sue you one day and after 11,000 cases, you don’t think if I went to a handful of patients I would be sued by those patients?
“In that case, I thought the chance of blindness was almost zero, but I never make guarantees. They claim I said I guarantee you won’t go blind, that’s an absolute lie, I didn’t say that, I would never say that, you’d be stupid to say that.’
In another interview with Ben Fordham on Wednesday, the neurosurgeon appeared irritated after the topic of money came up.
“Ben. Again, I find this incredibly mean. I’m not greedy for money,” he told the radio host.
“Talk to anyone who knows me, they know I don’t dress in nice clothes, I don’t have a nice car…if Audi hadn’t been generous enough to give me a car, I wouldn’t have one.
“I don’t live in the Eastern suburbs. I don’t have a boat. There is no wealth. I’m not into money.”
Originally published as Neurosurgeon and critic Charlie Teo did a sensational somersault after appearing on 60 Minutes