Controversial brain surgeon Charlie Teo compared himself to “an elite athlete” in a moving tribute to neurosurgery and the teenage patient he called his “wonder girl.”
The former Australian of the Year finalist has been relatively quiet since conditions were imposed on his medical registration last year following complaints from colleagues.
Prior to reviewing his medical practices, Dr. Teo built his reputation by operating on people with incurable or inoperable brain cancer.
One of his most famous patients was Amelia “Milli” Lucas, a 14-year-old girl from Perth who had donated $170,000 through crowdfunding to support Dr. Teo and flew to Sydney for the surgery.
dr. Teo hailed her as his “wonder girl” after removing 98 percent of the life-threatening brain tumor with experimental surgery.
In a lengthy social media post, Dr. Teo Milli’s “simple yet enlightening” legacy in a bid to raise money 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 someone’s life” during her ongoing battle with cancer, which took her life in January 2021.
“When faced with adversity, you can be angry, resentful, bitter and eaten, or you can accept the hand you’ve been dealt and make the best of what you’ve got,” he said.
“(Milli) was a captivating and beautiful soul. When I think of every time I saw her, she always smiled. I loved her dearly.”
According to Dr. Teo brain cancer is the deadliest 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, but governments are not pouring in the research funding,” he wrote.
“Brain cancer is not a common cancer, so simply put, 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 “much-needed” brain cancer research.
“It’s not fair that kids like Milli are dying and there are no treatments for them,” he said.
“I don’t want to have to say to another parent, ‘I can’t save your child’.”
In the social media post, Dr. Teo about his passion for neurosurgery, which he admitted “wasn’t an easy road”.
Despite his initial misgivings about the field of neurosurgery, which he said he “feared,” he said he was fascinated by the space for growth.
“It met all the conditions to be incredibly challenging and you could still be a pioneer in neurosurgery because there was still so much unknown,” he wrote.
The surgeon compared himself to an “elite athlete” trying to achieve the same focus and desire in a much higher-demand environment.
“I think it’s one of the most physically and emotionally taxing specialties in the medical field,” he wrote.
“It’s totally brutal. There is zero room for error.”
The brain surgeon made headlines last August when he was slapped with restrictive conditions on his medical record.
Following complaints from his colleagues, the NSW Medical Council banned Dr. Teo to perform risky surgeries without the written consent of a second independent neurosurgeon.
The colleague must have at least 20 years of experience and assess whether Dr. Teo has properly explained the risks and received financial approval from the patient. The Medical Council obliged Dr. Teo also to submit monthly reports detailing his operations.
The limits will remain in place at least until September 30 of this year.
The revealing announcement comes as The Charlie Teo Foundation, which includes celebrity ambassadors such as surfer Kelly Slater and Australian test cricketer Steve Smith, plans to collect tax-deductible donations before the end of the fiscal year.