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Harrowing and humbling: surgeon in the eye of a social media storm speaks out

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One week ago, I sent out two tweets describing my deep concern about patients and their families turning to crowdfunding to cover the costs of surgical treatment.

Together, these tweets triggered a storm of abuse and name calling through social media, email and even telephone calls.

Online, the discussion quickly leaves science, and instead becomes deeply personal and malicious.Credit:AFR

My first tweet read: “Something must be seriously wrong if a terminally ill girl with a brain tumour has to raise $120,000 to have surgery Dr Charlie Teo has offered do for $60-80K. If it was valid surgery, it could/should be performed in the public system under Medicare.”

I had just read an article about the Lucas family who were raising money for urgent surgery with Charlie Teo for their 12-year-old daughter, but it was also disturbing to see increasing crowdfunding to meet the out-of-pocket costs of cancer treatment.

“On a search on GoFundMe for Charlie Teo, there are 113 campaigns listed that mention him as the surgeon for which donations are sought to pay for his services. I find this really disturbing,” read my second tweet.

Before long, the online abuse was deafening, exacerbated by a Northern Beaches Councillor not only sharing my email address on Twitter, but encouraging others to send me emails.

These unpleasantries echo the anti-vaxx movement........

© Brisbane Times