A Mission without borders

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The Philippines

Mater Centre for Neurosciences and associated Mater teams generously donated their time and skills to provide life-saving surgery to a Filipino patient suffering from a rare neurological condition known as Lubag.

Neurosurgeon Dr Sarah Olson and Neurologist Dr Alex Lehn performed Deep Brain Stimulation on patient Gerhard Infante, with the support of their colleague Neurosurgeon Dr Bruce Hall. The surgery helped alleviate pain caused by the genetically inherited dystonia—only seen in males on the island of Panay in the Philippines—which causes debilitating Parkinsonism symptoms.

Mr Infante is the second person with Lubag treated by doctors in Australia, with Dr Olson and Dr Lehn successfully operating on his uncle, who also suffers from the condition, more than five years ago.

The condition, which causes muscles to contort resulting in stiff, uncontrolled rigid movements, meant Mr Infante could barely walk and suffered excruciating pain.

With symptoms generally presenting in men during their thirties, Mr Infante was hopeful he had escaped the illness, but began showing symptoms at age 47, after being married for just eight months.

The condition, which has already taken the life of two of Mr Infante’s brothers, has been traced to a genetic mutation. While the disease cannot be cured, through surgery, Mr Infante will receive symptomatic relief and his life will be prolonged. A life he plans to enjoy with his wife.


Dr Olson and Dr Lehn said they were proud to donate their services in the tradition of Mercy for which Mater is renowned, to provide compassionate care to those who need it most.