Australian man receives life-saving brain surgery in Buffalo

May 19, 2015

A man from Australia will soon be returning to his homeland after coming to Buffalo for life-saving brain surgery.

Ronald Cooper, a 78-year-old man who hails from the Sydney area, showed emotion at moments but was also in good spirits Tuesday when he met local media, joined by family members and the local doctor who performed the surgery to treat him for a condition called intracranial basilar artery stenosis.

Dr. Adnan Siddiqui, right, explains the procedure performed last week on Ronald Cooper (at center) to treat intracranial basilar artery stenosis.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

After suffering a pair of strokes back home in March, two doctors there provided discouraging outlooks. One suggested that Cooper, who was found to have at least 90 percent blockage of his basilar artery, get his affairs in order. The other doctor suggested medication followed by emergency surgery in the event he suffered a third stroke.

Cooper's daughter, Rhonda North, sought another opinion and turned to an online search using Google. It was there she came across the work of Dr. Adnan Siddiqui, Dr. L. Nelson Hopkins and their team at the Gates Vascular Institute.

"I wanted to try and find the best people in the world that I could, to help my father," North said, seated to Cooper's right. She added that it was her father's decision to pursue treatment.

Dr. Siddiqui performed the procedure last week. It was an angioplasty to open the affected artery in Cooper's brain. The surgery was done in just under an hour.

"Ron was awake for this thing," he said. "We entered through a small artery that goes through his leg, snaked a tiny tube all the way up to the brain and delivered the balloon across the narrowing and took everything out. I think we were done in about 50 minutes or so, I would say."

A close-up look at the narrowed artery which threatened Ronald Cooper's life and how it looked following the angioplasty performed in Buffalo.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Dr. Siddiqui, who is Vice Chairman and Professor of Neurosurgery at the University at Buffalo, briefed reporters on recent research into treatment of cases like that of Cooper. The SAMMPRIS (Stenting and Aggressive Medical Management for Preventing Recurrent stroke in Intracranial Stenosis) trial concluded that medication is better than using stents. However, local researchers continue to explore other means to treat cases.

"Rather than just assume that that was the end of the story, Buffalo has continued to work very hard on trying to figure out what the best treatment would be for these patients, who tend to have a rather aggressive form of disease with a very high risk of recurring stroke," Dr. Siddiqui said.

The family admitted that Cooper did not have insurance coverage for the procedure. Cooper, who is retired from running a company that produced and sold office furniture, used his retirement savings to pay for it.

"You can't put a price on health," North said.