Jack Wilkerson Seeks Hernia Surgery in Seoul, S. Korea
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, July 5, 2017~ MND loves to hear true tales of healing from readers. Thank you.
Jack Wilkerson writes: I noticed from your website the you are seeking reports relating hernia mesh or no mesh surgery.
I had “No Mesh” inguinal hernia surgery June 14, 2017 at the Gipum Hospital in Seoul, Korea by Dr. Kang.
He has developed a procedure that closes the opening and overlaps the tissues without tension or mesh. He has done over 12,000 hernia cases so far with a failure rate under 0.2 percent. He has done patients up to 103 years old. Three days after surgery, I was able to walk 3 miles touring the Kings Palace compound across town and the national museum with no pain or pain killers.
The next day I walked over 4 miles. I just walked slowly and carefully. Six days after surgery I was able to fly back through Tokyo to Los Angeles with just a minimal ache barely noticeable. Two weeks later I was back to mowing the lawn. I was shepherded through all of the scheduling, preliminary tests, and surgery by the English speaking chaplain, Stephen Kwon.
My case was a little complicated so none of the No Mesh doctors in the USA would accept me. I have a CRT-D pacemaker from Boston Scientific that provides constant pacing because I don’t have a natural heart beat. Damaging the device with an electro surgery system would stop my heartbeat. There are 3 electrodes to my heart nerve nodes to control pacing and sequencing.
The Boston Scientific rep showed up at the hospital 30 minutes before surgery to turn off the sensors and put me into Electro Surgery mode. After surgery he reset the device using the telemetry computer to normal Tachy and DOO modes. He was the best technician I have met in 11 years with a CRT. I would do it again.
Dr. Kang also set the Electro Surgery system to Bipolar mode and used only 2 short bursts of 1 or 2 seconds to make the bloodless incision. He uses that low stress procedure for all pacemaker cases. Dr. Kang prefers to use only a local anesthetic at the surgery site so he can talk to his patients. Surgery was conducted in a modern operating room with digital door locks and sterile field procedures.
At the beginning he asked me to cough so he could measure the limits of the hernia bulge. After he finished he had me cough again to make sure he got the whole area covered. Surgery takes 20-40 minutes. I had a direct inguinal hernia. He wants patients to walk away from the operating room and walk every hour to prevent blood clots. He uses a minimal invasive procedure for rapid recovery and minimal pain. They offered a pain shot after surgery, but I opted to go without painkillers so I could tell what movements in bed or sitting that would put strain on the repair and not do that. Avoiding coughing is my greatest focus. I took a pain pill the first 2 nights just to ease getting to sleep.
Younger patients can be discharged 4 hours after surgery. I am 63 years old. I stayed overnight for observation in their hospital and Dr. Kang himself changed my dressing the next day to check for swelling or infection. I did not have any bruising at all. He uses surgical glue to rejoin the skin with a water proof sealer so there are no stitches to remove. I was advised I could shower the next day.
I was surprised at how modern Seoul is. Seoul is very prosperous and benefits from all the wealth the country businesses generate. The medical care and level of technical competence of everyone I met was far above what you have in the USA. I have been a biomedical engineer designing medical equipment for hospitals and long term care for 27 years so I have been in many US facilities.
When I checked out, my total hospital bill for all the tests, surgery, overnight stay, etc was $2,786 USD at the current exchange rate. Overseas customers have to pay the full cost. Local Koreans only pay 10% copay. Korea has government paid full health care covered by income taxes of about 3.5%. Most doctors are on a fixed salary of $120 to $150K USD. The cost to fly to Seoul is about $500-900 round trip from Los Angeles depending on how far in advance you book a flight. China Eastern has the lowest fares. We flew American Airlines. Booking.com had low cost hotels and apartments.
I stayed in a BnB apartment 3 blocks from the hospital with kitchen and laundry for 6 nights to make sure I was healed enough to return to the USA without complications. We did some tourist sites the last 3 days of our stay. Other USA patients fly back 2 or 3 days after surgery. We used the Airport high speed train or limousine buses from the Incheon airport to downtown. The city is covered in subway and bus routes so no rental cars are needed. Patients from all countries in Europe, North America, and Asia travel to Gipum hospital for hernia surgery because of the skill and results of Dr. Kang. Recovery is much faster than other hernia procedures.
Would I do it again? Absolutely.
Dr. Kang is the best doctor I could find. He provided me a signed copy of his book on hernia surgery. He pioneered Colonoscopy in Korea 30 years ago. He ordered the latest Ultrasound equipment from Europe and the most recent low power CT Scanner from Siemens for diagnostics. The hospital is a 6 story specialty facility for processing patients quickly with every precaution. The nurse did not ask me if I was allergic to antibiotics. She actually did an allergy skin test 30 minutes before injecting the antibiotics into my IV. All the nurses are highly motivated and work quickly and surely. Every diagnostic doctor was highly skilled. The ultrasound doctor who checked my hernia also looked for other hidden problems like another hernia, torn muscles, cancer, etc. The blood test was a full SMAC panel that was on Dr. Kangs desk 3 hours later. Every test and procedure in Seoul is carried out very quickly. The Ultrasound test was delivered to Dr. Kang’s desk computer minutes after it was done.
Here is the contact information for those interested:
Yes. Normally I would be cautious about recommending a doctor unless he is far above normal.
and is the President of the Hospital Association board in Seoul. A modern wealthy city of 10 million. He is very kind to all patients. He used to sleep in a private room on the ward to keep an eye on his patients in the evening. He is also CEO and owner of the hospital yet he makes it a point to see every patient and examine them. In my case he and his staff did whatever it takes to accommodate my needs even if it did not make economic sense.
I was motivated to seek no mesh hernia surgery after talking to several friends. My friends had a mesh failure rate of 50%. One friend even had the surgery 5 times. My Florida Blue insurance policy would have left me with $18,000 in medical bills if I had found a doctor to take my case.
You have to drill down several pages in Google searches. I carefully analyzed all of the No Mesh Hernia doctors on the internet then read the patient reports to determine how long they experienced pain and the typical recovery times. Then I did a virtual tour of the Gipum Hospital using my past knowledge of medical facilities to see how they were organized. I conducted email discussions with their English Chaplain who was my guide through the process. Then I went to my Cardiologist for a Cardiac Clearance and detailed description of how to adjust my CRT-D so it would not be fooled by the Electro Surgery scalple causing a life threatening overreaction. I then notified all of the no mesh doctors of the procedure I needed.
I realized he was an above average doctor who could handle any situation. I made the flight and hotel arrangements. The staff picked my wife and me up at the hotel at 9:30 AM. I checked into the hospital. Had a meeting with Dr. Kang and exam. Then Ultrasound for confirmation of the hernia. Then Chest X-Ray. Then blood tests. Then vitals. Then lunch in the cafeteria. Then admission to my hospital room. Then the Boston Scientific rep showed up so I questioned him on his knowledge of my case and ability to handle a pacemaker dependent patient. He was far above average. He not only set the CRT-D into surgery mode, but he optimized all of my settings typically done annually in a pacemaker clinical. His settings were better than anything I experienced in the past with better heart beat capture. Then surgery. Then back to the hospital room for the rep to reset the CRT-D or normal modes. Then a cold pack and bed rest for 1 hour followed by hourly walking around the room. A 7 course diner.
The nurses station was manned all night by 3 nurses. A 10 course breakfast followed by a visit from Dr. Kang and the head nurse for an exam. I did a video interview later, then checked out and paid with a credit card. The staff transported us to an apartment room I rented 3 blocks away overlooking a quite school yard. I slept 5.5 hours that afternoon. The next day the hospital staff treated us to a fancy lunch nearby at the best restaurant. I slept 3.5 hours that afternoon. Then Saturday I felt up to visiting tourist stops. We caught a subway up to the north side of the city to the Kings Palace and followed an English tour. I did not realize the palace ground covered 2 square miles. I had to issues. Just walked slowly and carefully and stopped to visit gardens and museums. Lunch in the National Palace museum cafeteria. Then subway back to our apartment. You can see we had a good time with several days of vacation time.
Thank you for being such a careful patient.
Even the simplest surgery could have life and death consequences for me. I developed Class IV Heart Failure in 2005. My heart nerves failed. Fortunately I was living near one of the foremost doctors in Electrophysiology in the nation. He was assigned to my case. He had access to a new device not released to the public by Guidant. I had no other choice than become one of the trial subjects of the new CRT-D programmed to provide constant heart pacing. I am essentially bionic. I am the only survivor of the original trial group.
Because of my IQ and past history in Biomedical engineering, I studied every clinical trial I could find from the National Library of Medicine at the NIH regarding successful trials on Heart Failure subjects. I formulated a treatment plan based on 33 clinicals using all of the Enzymes and Amino Acids found to dramatically improve outcomes. Coupled with exercise, I was able to go from near death to normal life in 4 months. 10 months later I could bicycle 32 miles. By 2009 I was declared completely cured with a normal heart and ejection fraction. The only documented case in the nation. I continued to improve to far above normal.
I teach at Mended Heart Associations around Florida. I have written 2 books covering Heart Failure Recovery and Cure. All of the most advanced Heart Failure subjects who have applied my treatment plan have recovered in 4 months. Some individuals needed a heart transplant. Not anymore. Heart Failure is 100% terminal without this program because the only pharmaceutical medications temporarily rob the heart of energy enzymes to make a patient feel good.
I went through hernia surgery because I need to have the ability to keep up my cardiac exercise program of 5 to 10 miles per day to maintain my health. ##