Who Do You Think You Are
Charlie Teo, Natalie Imbruglia, Ernie Dingo, and John Jarratt feature in the new season of Who Do You Think You Are?
Charlie Teo, Natalie Imbruglia, Ernie Dingo, and John Jarratt feature in the new season of Who Do You Think You Are?
A Melbourne teenager, who was told she had an inoperable brain tumour, has been given a second chance at life after ground-breaking surgery performed by Sydney neurosurgeon Charlie Teo.
Bledi is quietly spoken and reserved both socially and professionally. I noticed his manner on our first interview and was secretly a little worried that we may not click in both arenas, at work and at play. Within a week of working closely with Bledi, any reservation I had was dispelled. He typifies the expression, still waters run deep. He demonstrated warmth and compassion to all patients but especially those who needed a bit more time to accept post-operative deficits or a terminal diagnosis. He’s a great listener but his paucity of words doesn’t mean he doesn’t contribute to clinical decision making and complex clinical scenarios. On the contrary, when Bledi has something to say, people listen. In the operating room, he showed exceptional dexterity and sound insight into controversial situations.
My running joke with Bledi was that he was the only fellow who refused to reduce his meat intake in deference to my veganism. While I was a little upset with him…. for the animals sake…. it is illustrative of Bledi’s strong personality and conviction….. sad for the animals but comforting for his patients who can be reassured he will be uncompromising in their care.
I really enjoyed my time with Bledi. He was a stable force during some trying times for me personally and professionally. He was fun to be around, incredibly trustworthy and a compassionate clinician. We wish him the best of luck for the future and look forward to hearing great things.
Jacky came to us from Yale University, considered one of the most prestigious and reputable universities in the USA. He had been mentored by Prof. Lieping Chen, a world-renowned scientist in the field of immunotherapy and its application to translational oncology. In medicine, there are clinicians and scientists. Clinicians specialise in the clinical care of patients and when they publish, do so on prospective and retrospective clinical trials. Scientists have expertise in molecular and genetic research performed in the lab and when they publish, they do so on scientific theory and non-human experiments. Their knowledge base and language are worlds apart and pure clinicians, like me, often can’t even understand the vernacular of pure scientists. In neurosurgery, there are very few clinician/scientists who are experts in both fields…..Mitch Berger, James Rutka, Kate Drummond and Mike Sughrue come to mind. Having spent 6 months with Jacky, I can honestly say he is a true clinician/scientist. His patient care and surgical skills were exceptional and his wisdom and guidance in assessing worthy research projects for the Charlie Teo Foundation was extraordinary. Furthermore, Jacky is also a balanced human being, with interests outside of medicine in which he also excelled. I’ve never had a fellow cook meals for me and my daughters that were of Michelin hat grade, take photos of Australian landscapes and cityscapes that were of National Geographic grade and demonstrate sartorial elegance of a style usually only seen on the streets of Milan, Paris and New York.
Jacky Yeung is an exceptional and unique individual. He is a well-rounded person and neurosurgeon who will bring excellence and balance to any department that is lucky enough to have him. I have identified “superlatives” for all my past fellows….most intelligent, best technician, most conscientious, most fun etc. The “superlative” I gave Jacky was the fellow I would most like as my son. Good luck in all your future endeavours and make your “Dad” proud.
Tyler was the first resident to train at and complete his residency at the Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Institute in Charlotte, NC. This is one of the largest private practice groups in the world and has an excellent reputation for hands-on training from some of the best neurosurgeons in the USA….think Tony Asher, Hunter Dyer, Tim Adamson and Scott Wait. As Visiting Professor there a few years back, I was observing Scott Wait, my previous fellow, performing a difficult case through an eyebrow approach. His assistant was Tyler. I was equally impressed with Tyler as I was with Scott, who I have described previously as the best technical surgeon I have ever trained. When Tyler applied for my fellowship I seriously thought that I would reject him simply because there was nothing that I could teach him that Scott hadn’t already.
He persisted and I am so thankful that he did. Tyler has been with us for 3 months and has already earnt himself several “superlatives”…..indeed, he may be the best “second generation” fellow that I have ever trained. Welcome Tyler and your beautiful family. Let’s hope that the Covid 19 pandemic prohibits you from returning to the US….just kidding!!
As usual, the over 600 applicants we received for the fellowship was shortened to 5 amazingly qualified candidates. They were from countries on all major continents and appeared to be the best of the best. How was I to choose? Harish was a resident at one of the best hospitals in the world, Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills, USA. He had received a glowing reference from his Chairman, the famous and talented, Keith Black…..but so too had the other 4 short-listed candidates. As is often the case, I decided to meet with them all on one of my trips to LA, and my daughter Alex, who was living in Santa Monica at the time, joined me. After interviewing them all, over breakfast, I still couldn’t make up my mind. Alex piped up and stated with authority, “Harish is the best candidate…I would choose him”. Given that my daughters have had very close relationships with all my previous fellows, from infants to now, I guess, no-one would be better qualified to know, what makes a good fellow or a bad fellow….who makes my life easier and enjoyable, and who makes my life harder and miserable. I decided to act on her intuition.
Harish, like all the other fellows brought his unique training and personality to the fellowship. I always give my fellows a title once they finish that includes at least one superlative….best technician, best academician, best clinician etc. Harish’s “superlative” is easy. Part of teaching and interaction with the fellow includes placing bets with them on some challenging clinical question. As you would hope and expect, I win the bet more often than not….usually based on my 35 years of experience rather than my reading of the text books. For the first time in the history of the fellowship, Harish won more bets than he lost. I hope this doesn’t mean that I no longer have anything worthwhile to teach, but I suspect, it’s Harish’s sharp mind, vast breadth of knowledge, clinical acumen and a little Indian karma!!!
Thanks for an incredibly enjoyable 6 months Harish. We wish you and your beautiful family the best of fortune in SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York.
In keeping with my love of nature and unique geographical places, I jump at any opportunity to teach, operate or visit South Africa. The level of neurosurgical care is excellent and some of the most innovative surgeons in history have originated from here….think Christian Barnard and Warwick Peacock. On one of my previous visits to Johannesburg to perform pro bono surgery I came across a young neurosurgeon who impressed me dramatically. He was head of his department in one of the largest public hospitals in one of the poorer sections of the city. He clearly wasn’t in it for the money and he and his beautiful wife, a plastic surgeon in the same institution, worked tirelessly to improve the care to impoverished patients. He was courageous enough to perform keyhole operations that he had learnt by reading my book, Principles and Practice of Keyhole Brain Surgery, without ever seeing it performed by someone else. His results were amazing. I wanted this person as my fellow. Thankfully, he agreed and the rest is history. Chris is a technically gifted surgeon. He has courage, dexterity, good clinical acumen, comprehensive knowledge of the literature and a caring nature. He taught us as much as we taught him and his enthusiastic personality was contagious. He will be a shining light in the field of innovative neurosurgery in his country and I am confident he will make a positive contribution to the overall welfare of both the privileged and impoverished people of South Africa. We wish him, his talented and beautiful wife, Bella, and their young family, the best of luck.
Not surprisingly, picking the best candidate for the Fellowship is difficult and I sometimes find myself struggling to make the definitive decision.
The fellowship program grows in popularity every year, and 2018 was no exception. The short list read like the Who’s Who of neurosurgical residents, and Amit had received glowing references from his attendings, not dissimilar to the other applicants. However, the major difference was that one of his referees was a previous fellow, Dan Guillaume, at the University of Minnesota. Dan was an exceptional neurosurgical fellow, but more importantly, he was an exceptional human being….. any reference from Dan could be trusted.
Neither Dan nor Amit let me down. Amit is an exceptional human being. He is wise beyond his years, compassionate to not only his patients, but to all those who are lucky enough to be touched by his friendship. Amit cares. He cares about his patients, his family, his colleagues and their welfare. He is in constant pursuit of excellence and as such, is an exemplary neurosurgeon. We wish him, his beautiful wife Jamie and his gorgeous kids the best of luck for the future. The neurosurgical care at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital in Delaware has never been better.
Dr Steve Carr
If you look back at all the valedictories that have been written, almost all of them contain some superlative description of the fellow. Steve will not be exempt. Without doubt, Steve Carr, is the nicest guy we’ve ever had. All the fellows are good surgeons, clinicians, technicians, intellects, communicators etc. and Steve is no exception, but no one has been as friendly, kind and considerate as Steve. Combine this with an absolute dedication to patient care and you have an amazing doctor.
Steve came to us from Denver, Colorado and will take an appointment at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. While he was here with his wife Mary, they had their first child, Benjamin. We wish them the very best of luck in the future.
Where does one start when trying to describe a phenomenon? I have only accepted a fellow sight unseen on 2 previous occasions but there was no way I could get Andy Parsa off my back until I said yes. Those of you who knew Andy, knows that he was the consummate resident advocate and in his opinion Omar HAD to learn my techniques….there was no compromise. He must’ve called me 20 times pushing for me to say yes and I was so pleased that I accepted Omar only 5 days before Andy’s tragic and sudden death.
I don’t know where to start when elucidating Omar’s amazing qualities. It just has to be in point form…
• Kind and generous person
• Loving and devoted husband to Maya
• Skilled surgeon
• Courage and conviction both in and out of the operating room
• Dedication to every thing he takes on
• Affable and sociable
• Takes computers apart as a hobby!
• Delightful traveling partner
• Good bloke
It was a privilege and a pleasure having him as our fellow….and even more pleasurable getting to know his gorgeous wife, Maya. They will be sadly missed by me, my family, our staff and all their many friends that they made during their time in Sydney. Omar is now an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School and we wish him the best of Aussie luck…..our loss is their gain!!!!
Reid came to us from UCSD, San Diego, with a glowing reference from one of my old and dear friends, Larry Marshall. Those of you who know Larry, know that Larry does not mince his words. If Larry doesn’t like someone, then that person knows it and so does everyone else, even if they don’t want to know! So when Larry told me that Reid was a solid doctor with excellent clinical skills, I believed him.
Reid demonstrated a level of commitment never before seen at the Centre. His care and concern for his patients took precedence over all other concerns. His surgical skills were excellent and matched his clinical acumen. True to form, Reid produced more peer-reviewed articles whilst our fellow than any other (…Mike Sughrue doesn’t count! ). Reid returned to UCSD with his beautiful wife where I’m sure he’ll make a huge impact on the US scene and will eventually settle in his home state of Hawaii. We wish him the best of luck….aloha !!
Patrick was also from Duke University. However, that’s probably the only thing he had in common with his predecessor, Vijay Agarwal. Vijay was loud, Patrick was quiet. Vijay had a crude, politically incorrect sense-of-humour, Patrick had a wicked, politically correct sense-of-humour. Patrick had a pedigree that read like the who’s who of academia….an engineering degree from Caltech, a medical degree and residency from Harvard and a joint appointment with the departments of engineering and neurosurgery at Duke University.
Like many fellows before him, Patrick sacrificed a lot to learn our minimally invasive techniques. For 6 months, he left his beautiful wife and young daughter to spend time in Sydney mastering keyhole cranial surgery…..not for financial reward, not because it was a compulsory component of his career, not for any other reason but to offer his future patients better outcomes. Patrick worked tirelessly while he was with us at the Centre. His commitment to patient care was second to none and his compassion and kindness to his patients was exemplary.
Patrick taught me about commitment. His vegan diet was not from any religious belief or any dietary likes or dislikes. It was solely a decision based on his love of sentient creatures and a knowledge that our current consumption of meat is unsustainable. Patrick will be missed by all, especially me.