J. Barrie, Moscow, Russian Federation
Dear Dr. Samadi
I’m writing this to you, two months after my very successful surgery, to both thank you and to share my prostate cancer history with the hope that it might be helpful to fellow sufferers in the future.
I’ve been living an as an ex-patriot for the better part of twenty years in Moscow, Russia. The quality of life here has improved immensely since I first arrived, especially concerning medical care, but remains in the 20th century while US medical practices are rushing forward in the 21st.
I had my first elevated PSA results right at the turn between those two centuries, which led to bi-annual repeat testing, and three years ago to my first of four biopsies.
Russia has not begun widespread use of needle biopsies, and continues to use the classic in-patient procedure, under general anesthetic, with an average hospital stay of three days. After my first research discovered this fact, I made the decision to have all biopsy work done in the US. During my third biopsy two years ago, high grade PIN was diagnosed, and I learned that my odds for getting prostate cancer exceeded fifty percent. My last biopsy in August, 2006 found prostate cancer in one lobe, with a Gleason score of 3/3 .
I learned of these results after I had returned to Moscow, and found myself spending hours searching for advice on what to do about them. By then I knew that my choices included surgery, radiation and hormone therapy, and watchful waiting. Many close friends who had made this decision in the recent past had all chosen surgery, and several suggested that I look into robotic methods.
Literally, the same day, I had emails from Florida and New York recommending you as the most experienced Da Vinci robotic surgeon in the United States. I immediately called your office from Moscow, and arranged to have my medical records transferred to your office from my New Jersey based urologist. After you reviewed the results, you recommended a CT scan of the pelvis area and a nuclear bone scan, both to check whether there had been any spread of the cancer outside of the prostate. I had this done in Moscow, and express mailed the results to the New York office. Shortly thereafter, I received a call with a promise to work me into the operating schedule during the first half of November, which fit perfectly into my requirements.
You conducted a preliminary examination immediately after my arrival in the US in early November, and the surgery was performed at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on November 13th. The hospital felt more like a four star hotel and your staff was always professional, competent and friendly. My surgery was performed in under two hours, when the average time for such operations is closer to four hours. Pain management was perfect, and the hospital stay pleasant. Since I was not a resident of the United States, and had no one to care for me at home, my request to remain in the hospital longer than the usual over night stay was easily granted, and when I did leave required no special care.
A week later, I returned to your office for catheter removal. I had dreaded this event, but with the help of your very experienced and personable nurse, that worry turned out to be unwarranted, and the procedure was painless and quick. Best of all, as a result of your skill with the Da Vinci prostatectomy, there was minimum incontinence from the time the catheter was removed, until the present time, two months later. I had been warned to expect to use as many as three pads per day for the first few months, and I’ve never used more than one, and do not have problems now, even when I forget to wear them.
The world is getting smaller and smaller, and it’s wonderful to know that the best medical care is available no matter where one lives. When I chose you to do my surgery, it was both as a result of personal recommendations and the fact that you had performed over 900 of these procedures and had mastered them. That was the most important fact for me, and based on the results of that surgery, appears to have proved me right. I will highly recommend your services to anyone, where ever they may be, with similar problems.
Please feel free to pass this along to anyone interested.
Moscow, Russian Federation
January 12. 2007
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