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"For me, this is Mater at its best"

Monday, 18 July 2016

Mater patient Gerhard Infante has returned to the Philippines this week after successful neurosurgery and rehabilitation to minimise the symptoms of a rare condition known as Lubag.

Mater Centre for Neurosciences and associated teams donated their time and skills to extend and improve Gerhard’s life.

Neurosurgeons Dr Sarah Olson and Dr Bruce Hall, with Neurologist Dr Alex Lehn, performed Deep Brain Stimulation on Gerhard to help alleviate the pain of his debilitating condition on 11 April 2016, after successfully treating his uncle a number of years prior.

The condition is only physically seen in males on the island of Panay in the Philippines and presents with symptoms and dystonia similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Sarah Olson said she is really happy with Gerhard’s progress.

“After three months he’s better than where I expected him to be. By six months he’ll be outstanding. When I first met Gerhard he wasn’t talking to me but now we’re having conversations. He’s not having any pulling of his neck, he’s not in pain and he’s able to walk.

“I don’t think he would be alive today if we didn’t do the surgery. It’s very rewarding to see such a dramatic change and improvement in his quality of life.”

Dr Alex Lehn is also delighted with his new friend Gerhard’s progress.

“I hope we have given Gerhard at least another ten years of good quality of life. This is a degenerative disease that we can’t cure but we can treat the symptoms very well.

“It’s a delight to help patients like Gerhard and from a scientific view it is also fascinating to learn more about diseases we don’t otherwise see in Australia.”

Dr Lehn said seeing Gerhard and wife Leah’s gratitude made it all worthwhile.

“I think the first thing Gerhard said to me after surgery was in German – ‘Ich liebe dich’ – I love you.

“We’ve formed a strong bond. Of course it’s lovely but it’s very hard to say goodbye now that he’s going back to the Philippines. I would love to see how he continues to go in the future.”

Dr Lehn said he could not be more grateful to the entire Mater team.

“For me this is Mater at its best! I can’t imagine this happening in any other hospital. Everyone working together was just incredible: organising flights, surgery, anaesthetics, blood tests, ICU, nursing, speech pathology, OT, physiotherapy, radiology, rehab… they all gave their time and services without questions and without cost.”

Gerhard and wife Leah fly back to the Philippines this week after four months in Brisbane. Gerhard is looking forward to celebrating with family in the Philippines, travelling, going to the beach and being able to eat his favourite meal.

“We really don’t know where we’d be without the surgery. We don’t know what life would be like for us. We will be forever grateful to Dr Lehn, Dr Olson and the whole Mater team,” said Leah.



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Tags: Mater Private Hospital Brisbane, Mission, neurological, neurosurgery