Controversial brain surgeon Charlie Teo compared himself to “an elite athlete” in a touching tribute to neurosurgery and the teen patient he called his “miracle girl”.
The former Australian of the Year finalist has been relatively quiet since conditions were imposed on his medical registration last year following colleague complaints.
Before reviewing medical practices, Dr. Teo had built his reputation by operating on those with incurable or inoperable brain cancers.
One of his most well-known patients was Amelia “Milli” Lucas, a 14-year-old girl from Perth who crowdfunded $170,000 to afford Dr. Teo’s services and flew to Sydney for the operation.
Camera IconDr Charlie Teo wrote an emotional tribute to 14-year-old Milli Lucas. Credit: News Corp Australia
Dr. Teo hailed her as his “miracle girl” after he successfully removed 98 percent of the life-threatening brain tumor with experimental surgery.
In a lengthy social media post, Dr. Teo discussed Milli’s “simple but enlightening” legacy in a bid to attract funding for his eponymous brain cancer charity.
“There is nothing worse than the death of a child,” he wrote.
He said the teen was “an exceptional example of how to make the most of one’s life” throughout her ongoing battle with cancer, which claimed her life in January 2021.
“When faced with adversity, you can be angry, resentful, bitter, and consumed, or you can accept the hand that you’ve been dealt and make the most of what you have,” he said.
“(Milli) was an engaging and beautiful soul. When I think about each time I saw her, she was always smiling. I loved her dearly.”
Camera IconDr Teo operates on a patient. Credit: News Corp AustraliaCamera IconMilli Lucas was used twice by Dr . Teo. Credit: News Corp Australia
According to Dr . Teo, brain cancer is the most deadly disease for children in Australia, but research is woefully underfunded.
“It has a significant socio-economic impact on our society as a killer of children and young people, yet governments aren’t pouring in the research funding,” he wrote.
“Brain cancer isn’t common, so simply: it doesn’t win votes.”
The high-profile brain surgeon asked for donations to his charity, The Charlie Teo Foundation, which he said was dedicated to funding the “desperately needed” research into brain cancer.
“It’s not fair that children like Milli are dying, and there are no treatments for them,” he said.
“I don’t want to have to tell another parent, ‘I can’t save your child’.”
In the social media post, Dr . Teo opened up about his passion for neurosurgery, which he admitted: “hasn’t been an easy road”.
Camera IconDr Teo said brain cancer was the most deadly disease for children. Sam Ruttyn Credit: News Corp Australia
Despite his initial misgivings about the field of neurosurgery, which he said he “feared”, he said the room for growth enthralled him.
“It ticked all the boxes of being incredibly challenging, and you could still be a pioneer in neurosurgery because so much was still unknown,” he wrote.
The surgeon compared himself to an “elite athlete” who tried to achieve the same focus and desire in a much higher-stakes environment.
“I think it’s one of the most physically and emotionally taxing specialties in the medical field,” he wrote.
“It’s unforgiving. There is zero room for error.”
The brain surgeon made headlines in August last year when he was slapped with restrictive conditions on his medical registration.
Following complaints from his colleagues, the Medical Council of NSW banned Dr . Teo from performing high-risk surgeries without written approval from a second independent neurosurgeon.
Camera IconDr Teo said brain cancer was poorly funded. Credit: News Corp Australia
The colleague must have at least 20 years of experience and assess whether Dr . Teo properly explained the risks and gained financial consent from the patient. The Medical Council also required Dr . Teo to file monthly reports detailing his surgeries.
The restrictions will remain in place until at least September 30 this year.
The revealing post comes as The Charlie Teo Foundation, which boasts famous ambassadors like surfer Kelly Slater and Australian Test cricketer Steve Smith, looks to fundraise tax-deductible donations before the end of the financial year.