2023 | Volume 24 | Issue 3

Patrick Lo

Dr Patrick Lo’s fascination with the human nervous system has led him to a highly rewarding career in Neurosurgery, where many of his ground-breaking surgical outcomes are changing the lives of children and adults. 

He’s a paediatric neurosurgeon at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, where his special interests include paediatric neuro-oncology, craniofacial neurosurgery, trauma, and functional and spasticity neurosurgery.

He’s also an adult neurosurgeon at the Melbourne Private and Royal Melbourne hospitals, where his practice includes spinal, tumour and trauma surgery.

Dr Lo’s early childhood was spent in Hong Kong, where his godfather was a prominent orthopaedic surgeon from the UK. He says this, along with an early tendency to “tinker with stuff”, heavily influenced his eventual move towards technology and surgery.

He started his journey into medicine at 17 years of age, hoping to become an orthopaedic surgeon like his godfather. Dr Lo says fate saw him miss out on the orthopaedic rotations he was eagerly anticipating, instead ending up in emergency and neurosurgery rotations, where his interest was piqued and a love for brain surgery was ignited.

“I love how, in Neurosurgery, you have access to every part of human anatomy, every site in the human body that has nerves or neural tissue, and you have a fantastic mix of surgery and medicine,” he says.

Dr Lo wants to help bring about change through participation in key committees and groups, in turn, giving back to the surgical community that has supported him. “In my roles, I’m able to participate in education, policy development and recognition of opinions. I especially enjoy the ability to bring people of all walks to a common table in order to achieve goals.”

Dr Lo is Chair of the Victoria State Committee of RACS. He’s also a board member of the Neurosurgical Society of Australasia, the neurosurgery representative to the Victorian Audit of Surgical Mortality (VASM), and a member of the Victorian Perioperative Consultative Council (VPCC) Surgical Subcommittee, and a Member of the Prostheses List Advisory Committee of the Panel of Clinical Experts.

Dr Lo says any surgeon will tell you the most rewarding moments of their career are seeing each successful surgery giving a patient their life back and bringing them better health outcomes. 

He recalls a challenging case where he operated on a toddler with a tumour that consumed half of her right brain. This was in the early 2000s when the current breadth of chemotherapeutic options were not available. Despite diagnosis of an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour (ATRT), with a near 100 per cent fatality rate, this strong little girl pushed through to survive recurring surgeries and chemotherapy. Some years later, Dr Lo’s proudest moment was hearing that she had recently graduated from high school and was considering a career in nursing.

“It goes to show that, no matter how bleak the situation and how dire the possible outcome may be, if you fight like crazy, you might be able to alter the outcome and do some good. I continue to carry this through all the tough times when things aren't going as planned and just think of this proud moment, giving me the impetus to keep pushing and fighting.”

Dr Lo finds essential work-life balance through sport and family. He  bikes, runs, skis, and enjoys cooking. He offers astute advice for all surgical Trainees: “Always have something for your family and yourself outside your field of work. Don’t lose sight of who you are as a human being and a family member. I’ve always believed that movement is key. Have things outside of work that can re-energise you.”