Doctor who saved girl's life now faces criticism for costs
A Gladstone family has spoken in support of controversial brain surgeon Dr Charlie Teo, who has threatened to quit operating.
Robin Bates said the Sydney neurosurgeon saved her daughter Bella's life when other doctors refused to operate on a terminal brain tumour.
Dr Teo's threat comes after medical professionals criticised the six-figure cost of his surgery, with many families forced to launch crowdfunding campaigns.
Dr Teo says most of the money goes to the private hospital and he earns about $8000 after splitting the fee with other doctors.
More than 94,000 people have since signed a change.org petition calling for Dr Teo to be allowed to perform in the public system.
Mrs Bates, who paid Dr Teo about $43,000 (private health insurance covered hospital fees of up to $50,000), said it was a small price compared to losing her daughter Bella.
The Bates turned to Dr Teo to remove a tumour on Bella's brain that other doctors refused to touch.
Although he was a "loner” and took risks where other surgeons would not, Mrs Bates said he gave families a choice.
"He tells you the options, and he's forthright and candid about the risks but he leaves it to you whether you want to move forward with the operation, knowing what the outcome might be,” she said.
"Whereas other more conservative doctors make the decision for the patients and say the risk is too high.”
Because of the tumour's location near a main blood vessel, Bella's treating team in Brisbane aborted surgery because of bleeding and would not do any more procedures, meaning she would die.
But they also counselled the Bates family against seeking the help of Dr Teo.
"We were adamantly told not to see Dr Teo by Bella's treating team because they said he's a 'cowboy' but ultimately we went against their wishes,” said Mrs Bates.
"We've seen first-hand the attitude to Dr Teo by the medical fraternity, not just from the treatment team but other medical professionals I sought out.”
Mrs Bates said Dr Teo was a life saver whose surgery on Bella had surpassed any treatments she had previously undergone, with much quicker recovery and more successful results.
"Bella is healthy presently and for now everything is fantastic,” she said.
"We are very grateful for Dr Teo. He has given us hope for the future.”