Oct 11 2012

Survivor Spotlight – Dr. George Jallo

An Interview with Dr. George Jallo, MD, Distinguished Member of SCTA medical Advisory Board, and SCT Researcher
by SCTA Volunteer Joanne Glosser Jaeger

What made you want to be a NS?I thought during medical school that it was the most exciting and yet stressful profession. As a neurosurgeon, it is a profession where you can make a difference in people.

What inspires you?
My patients and their outcomes.

Why are you doing SCT research, when so few are interested in it?
I find spinal cord tumors the most delicate and intricate surgery. There is very little room for error. Research in finding a cure for these rare tumors is my goal because I have seen patients have deficits including paralysis from just a simple biopsy or other treatments.

Can you tell us a little bit about your research?
I am trying to locally place chemotherapy drugs into the spinal cord tumor, hoping to prolong survival or even cure them.

I understand your Mom had a Menigioma ? How she got diagnosed? How is she doing today?
My mom had an intradural tumor. My brother and I ordered an MRI on her after my wedding because we noticed she was having some problems walking and dancing that night. We first thought it was her knee because she had fallen 1 month earlier but then the MRI of the spine revealed a large meningioma.

What is your favorite thing to do away from Johns Hopkins?
I enjoy just driving around the Baltimore area. Since I have only been here 2 1/2 years, I like to explore the neighborhoods and attractions on free time.

Do you like the Baltimore area better than NY?
Baltimore is much different than New York, I do miss NY since I grew up in North Jersey, but my wife is from the Washington DC area so we are close to both families.

What is your favorite book?
The Kite Runner by by Khaled Hosseini, a physician from San Francisco. The book is about two friends who grow up in Afghanistan like brothers, although they couldn’t be more different. Amir is the son of a wealthy businessman, a Sunni Muslim, a Pashtun, and he’s educated and reads voraciously. The other is HASSAN whose father is a servant to Amir’s father, and Hassan is a Sh’ia Muslim, a Hazara, he’s illiterate. But neither boy has a mother and they spend their boyhoods roaming the streets of Kabul together. Amir, though, continually uses his superior position to taunt or abuse Hassan, and one day hides in fear as Hassan is beaten mercilessly by bullies. The Soviet invasion of Aghanistan sends Amir’s family to the United States, but he returns there as an adult during the Taliban rule to atone for his sins to Hassan. IT is a fascinating and moving book.

What do you like to do in your free time? (If you have any)?
I am learning to play the guitar. I took lessons when in college but picked it up again recently and am playing. Also enjoy biking, playing softball and some basketball.

How can we, as a group, or as individual SCT survivors, help you in your research?
Making the others aware that spinal cord tumors do afflict many people, raise awareness to SCT’s and the research.

Do you ever see a preventative for SCT’s?
No I do not see prevention for SCTs but hopefully a less invasive cure for all tumors

All who speak of you talk about your kind manner, your quickness in getting back to people, and the dignity with which you treat your patients. This, in fact, comes up so often, which implies that many doctors do not treat their patients as respectfully as you. Do you have any thoughts on this?
I agree with this statement, I have seen lots of physicians who are arrogant and treat their patients as just another person or operation without learning about them or their families. It maybe my pediatric neurosurgery background and dealing with children and their parents that makes me warm and caring for all my patients. But I also thank my upbringing and parents who taught me to repect all others in life.

Testimonials from former patients ….

Joel D. Wisner:
In my mind, George Jallo is the best. From his friendly demeanor (he wants you to call him George) and bedside manner, to his skillful work as a neurosurgeon, he sets the standard for all surgeons. I flew to see him in person prior to making up my mind about surgery, and had already spoken with him on the phone several times (he called me after I left a note with his secretary). He convinced me he was the guy, in part because he didn’t try to sell me on the surgery. In fact, he thought I could wait a little longer. He did exactly as he said, and today, I am walking because of his surgery. I totally trust him. Even when I returned home and realized I had an infection, he found a colleague he trusted in my area, who could take care of me. Today, I consider him a friend, although I hope I never have to see him again!

Nickola Pazderic (LaughingBuddha on the BB Forum):

The day before surgery, George was a complete professional. Cool and detached, we knew he was readying himself for a very serious operation. When I emerged into consciousness after a five-hour surgery the next day, I lifted my head and asked if the tumor was gone. My wife told me George said it was, though it was bigger than expected. I knew I would be OK when she added: “When Dr. Jallo came out of surgery, he looked like a kid!”

Sheila Keen:
Dr Jallo was my NS. He was kind to my husband and me. He had good advice about post-op recovery. He has remained consistent and willing to answer any question even after 2 1/2 yrs post-op. Dr. Jallo is also an excellent surgeon. He removed a tumor from my canal that I was told was inoperable. Dr. Jallo removed all of it and I’m not paralyzed. I’m able to walk, work, and raise my family. I do yard work and workout. I feel blessed in many ways in life. The one blessing I will always be thankful for is Dr. Jallo’s skill and passion to remove spinal cord tumors. Thank you Dr. Jallo for helping me, giving my children their mother back and for helping others with SCT’s.

Shari Decker Mom to Hannah age 8:
Unfortunately our first NS experience was not with Dr. Jallo. Our daughter Hannah, 8 years old, had her first surgery in November 2004. While she recovered quiet well from her first surgery, we later found out that enough was removed to only be considered a biopsy. We started talking to Dr. Jallo in December 2004 after Hannah’s first post-op MRI. He is so kind & quick in his responses, even though he is busy beyond belief. After a May 2005 MRI, it was determined that Hannah would need a second surgery, there was no question we were going to Baltimore for Dr. Jallo. Our experiences & relationship with Dr. Jallo makes it easier to deal with Hannah’s tumor. He always makes time to address our questions & concerns, & is always only a phone call or email away. It is good to know that Dr. Jallo is actively researching ways to battle spinal cord tumors, this gives our family a great sense of hope.

Carol Miller:
Where do I begin? Dr. Jallo is one of the most intelligent, skilled doctors out there. Not only is he brilliant, he is very kind and patient. He cares about us as human beings not just the object of his job. Doctors like this help us to have hope, they also help us to heal.  I am so grateful to have him as my doctor and feel honored that he cares. Thank you Dr. Jallo!

Barb Keller, West Seneca, NY:
What do I have to say about Dr. Jallo, well………….

In 2003 I was surfing the net to find answers to why I was still experiencing symptoms of my tumor, which was operated on in December 2002. Through the SCTA I got the name of Dr. Jallo. I was amazed at how, when I would email him, he answered right back. In fact, one Saturday morning I had just finished emailing him and the phone rang. It was Dr. Jallo! Dr. Jallo, my husband and I agreed that I go to Beth Israel, in NYC, where he was practicing at the time. Dr. Jallo found that none of the tumor was removed during my first surgery. In June 2003, he performed my second surgery and removed 98% of the tumor and drained two cysts.

My husband and I have found Dr Jallo to be a very caring and committed doctor. When I have MRI’s done or when I email Dr. Jallo with a question, he gets back to me as soon as possible.

For being very busy , Dr. Jallo’s values his patients concerns and health above everything else.