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Thread: Is Dr. Kao for real?

  1. #11
    Scribe, welcome and thanks for contributing. Several CC members have gone to Ecuador for this treatment and promised to share their progress reports upon return, one or two have but the progress they made failed to live up what they were led to expect, others haven't reported anything at all. Dr. Kao used to promise a return of sensation to the knees, since you didn't mention that I assume something has led him to adjust that opinion.

  2. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Sonora, CA, USA
    Originally posted by Dr. J. J.:


    Kao's treatments have been mostly on completes that are 2 or more years post injury. Recovery in these individuals, without any treatments, are usually minimal. Like you, I discourage people from getting his surgery.

    The King!

  3. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Sonora, CA, USA
    Thanks again King Tut and ChrisD for your insightful comments. I wish more people would visit this forum. It may inspire them to think about vulnerable we all are to anyone who promises a cure. I strongly recommend that SCIs not have Kao's surgery.

    Maybe, as Jan says, he's a great surgeon. But if he is, why is he ostracized from the medical community and has no hospital privileges?

    Also, does he pay taxes on these procedures? It appears he doesn't because he accepts cash only and no insurance claiims. I may be wrong about this, but I don't think I am.

  4. #14
    I had dr.kao's surgery in jan 2001.I'am t-7 complete(they say).I've not seen one change since my surgery.Unless you have the money to pay a therapist to come to your house and work with you for 6-8 hour's a day?you won't be able to complete his work out program.And if you ever get him to come back out and see you after the surgery(took a year and a half)like he promise's.He say's that you have'nt got anything back because you have'nt completed his work out program exactly like he say's.I never got a detailed sheet of the program until after the surgery.I still workout 3 time's a week with a therapist,and i'am not giving up ever.I just think it's horseshit the thing's he said he could do for me(bowel,blatter,sexual function's and motor & feeling down to my knee's) and not anything at all happening.Oh ya,i live about 15 minute's from project walk(escondido)and there like a bunch of whore's working a corner in carlsbad.Everything is about money there,my mom and girlfriend went in there again last week and all they talked about is money.I guess one of the therapy's there now is showing poeple how to right a check.They showed a bunch of surfer kid's how to exercise poeple for 3 hour's while they go to the bank and then club med for happy hour......whatever....they where nice though

  5. #15

    If you had a chance to do it over again do you think the $30k you paid Dr. Kao would have been better spent on an exercised induced recovery program, like PW?

    Are you going to pursue it, since you live so close?

    I agree, the fees are getting exorbitant. But believe it or not Washington University in St. Louis charges something (I've heard) on the order of $3,000 a day! if you're "in residence".

    It's a shame and obviously one of the primary reasons ($$$) why more of this community doesn't / can't engage in these types of programs.

  6. #16
    I would rather design my own exercise program and spend the the $30k towards one of those new pontaic GTO's.

    "Life is about how you
    respond to not only the
    challenges you're dealt but
    the challenges you seek...If
    you have no goals, no
    mountains to climb, your
    soul dies".~Liz Fordred

  7. #17
    I have refrained from commenting in this very good topic because I think that the discussion is very good and did not want to interfere. This site exists so that this kind of discussion can go on. Thank you, Scribe, Jan, Overtheline, and ChrisD, and others for your comments.

    The current situation is potentially a very difficult time for the SCI field, when expectations are high but when effective therapies are not yet available or proven for chronic spinal cord injury. Many people are basing their decisions to undergo experimental therapies out of desperation rather than on credible data. Many people are calling on doctors to take chances and apply experimental therapies to them, often based on little or no data. On the other hand, they severely criticize doctors when they take a chance and the results don't come up to expectation.

    Carl Kao has operated on many patients over the past 20 years, using his experimental procedure of implanting peripheral nerve and omentum graft. I have heard that he has operated on over 500 patients. He has untethered and decompressed people that most neurosurgeons in the United States will not operate on. I believe that he is sincerely convinced that his procedures enhance recovery. It is impossible for anybody to do this kind of work without believing that it is helpful. I also don't think that he is making a lot of money from the operations. His procedure, for example, is substantially cheaper than the Tijuana group that charges as much as $100,000 for shark embryo transplants.

    Although Dr. Kao has done many operations, I have not heard of any catastropic cases that have resulted in marked worsening of function or death. If true, this is an impressive achievement considering his facilities in Ecuador and the fact that he is operating alone on many people with serious spinal cord injury with only an anesthetist, limited nursing support, and lack of backup medical support. Most doctors that I know would not be willing or able to do such complicated cases without the support of a major medical center. Thus, in my opinion, he is a gifted surgeon and passionately committed to helping people with spinal cord injury. I don't believe that he is doing this for money. He could be making a lot more money doing something else.

    I do fault Dr. Kao for not publishing his results. Because he does not publish, there is no way to know how many of his patients have recovered and to what extent. I am not sure that the "vast majority" of his patients have recovered nothing. Many people have written to me about some recovery that they have had. I also know some people who have not recovered anything. The lack of publication is unfortunate because it means that the knowledge that he has gained over the years will not be passed on to others. Even if we assumed that the nerve graft is not effective, his series of cases must be one of the most extensive experience involving decompression and untethering of chronic spinal cord injury.

    It is very easy for a surgeon to stay with what is safe and established. A successful surgeon selects cases for success and can make a very comfortable living doing so. Such a surgeon would have many grateful patients with little risk to his reputation or lifestyle. It is very difficult for a neurosurgeon to act on his or her convictions when they conflict with established views of the field. A surgeon who strays outside of the bounds of accepted practice is not only severely criticized by his or her colleagues but by patients when the results don't come out as expected. I suspect that Dr. Kao does his surgery in Ecuador because he feels that he does not have the freedom to do what he thinks is best for the patients in the United States.

    How does one evaluate a doctor or surgeon who is a loner operating outside of the boundaries of accepted practice? I suggest several common sense rules:

    1. It is important to see if the surgeon is publishing the results. While leading journals often are reluctant to publish work that fall outside of the boundaries of accepted practice, the work can still be published second line journals, in book form, or even on internet.

    2. The results should be verified by third party examiners. For example, Dr. Huang is willing and encourages U.S. doctors to examine his patients before and after operations.

    3. The cost should not be so high that the doctor is doing it for money.

    Finally, of course, you should trust your guts.


    [This message was edited by Wise Young on 11-08-03 at 06:51 AM.]

  8. #18
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Someplace between Nowhere and Goodbye
    Wise, I think your common sense tips are really needed at a time like this. I believe that there will be many different types of surgeries, and many different types of doctors doing them, coming in the future. We have to be cautious, but optimistic, also.

    Buyer beware, but don't let go of Hope.


  9. #19
    Thank's DR. Young.Dr.kao is a gifted surgeon.Going in and out of his surgery was like a drive thru.I just wish there was some change like he said there would be.He doe'snt make much at all for a surgery,and it's great to hear a docter say they can help me.That's part of the reason why i went.I have'nt talked to one docter since i been hurt that think's they can make a difference.And Dr.kao doe's.I liked your post jan.

  10. #20
    Dr. Young,

    Don't know who named you, but that person was
    certainly prophetic.

    If you can dream can
    do it. Walt Disney

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