Buy tickets to watch brain surgeon operate

Friday, January 28, 2011

SYDNEY - A prominent brain surgeon in Australia has startled the medical fraternity by auctioning tickets to let people watch him perform surgeries in the operation theatre.

Apalled by such an action, the medical authorities here have launched a probe against Charlie Teo, a Sydney brain surgeon.

Teo, who was made a Member of the Order of Australia this week, sold off the tickets at a charity auction in October, reported Friday.

According to Sydney University public health professor Simon Chapman, who was at the auction, selling the tickets is unethical, even if the patient has given consent.

“If you’re a patient who is undergoing a very serious procedure such as brain surgery for cancer, and you’re in the hands - if you like - of a leading surgeon and the surgeon makes that request of you, there is an inherent power imbalance there,” he said.

“Yes, you can consent. You can say, ‘Yes that’s fine’. But what if you had reservations?

“What if you didn’t want your privacy invaded like that. Would you really be able to say ‘No, look I’d rather not’?

“You probably would think twice about saying no,” Chapman said.

Though Teo says that it is not an issue because he develops strong friendship with his patients, Chapman differs from him saying bioethics is not down to the person making the call.

In an interview with 702 ABC Sydney, Teo acknowledged the concerns, but said the key consideration was the motive of the surgeon involved. He said that he auctioned the tickets to create awareness.

“The reason I do it is for the greater good of the community,” he said.

“To try and get more money into research. To try and tell people [that] brain cancer is not just a name or a disease.”

“I think this personal experience allows people to see that cancer affects you and me,” Teo stated.

Filed under: Cancer, Medicine, World

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