Dr. Ciro Randazzo Performs Critical Brain Surgery

Is there a doctor in the house?

When the answer to that question is yes, it can make a world of difference. Such was the case for Robert Kinsey when his physician father-in-law Dr. Thomas Bellavia teamed up with Dr. Ciro Randazzo of IGEA Brain & Spine.

Kinsey recalls having painful morning headaches immediately following Labor Day in 2014. “They were horrible headaches,” he says. So painful in fact that he would take some over-the-counter medication and have to go back to bed for an hour. He’d wake up recovered and “go about (his) day like it was any other.”

This all changed on September 24, 2014. That’s when the then 54-year-old Millstone Township, New Jersey business consultant was convinced by his wife to accompany her to Hasbrouck Heights on a visit to her father—who is also their family physician. She wanted him to get a physical, particularly because of his headaches. Kinsey checked out fine, but due to the headaches, Dr. Bellavia wanted him to get an MRI for a closer look.

Two days later, he had his MRI. No sooner did he pay his co-pay, his phone started ringing. It was his father-in-law. “I’m coming to get you,” he told Kinsey.

“What’s going on?”

That was the question Kinsey asked his father-in-law and undoubtedly himself. By then, Dr. Bellavia had contacted Dr. Randazzo whom he met when Randazzo was an intern under his charge during a family practice rotation.

Dr. Bellavia took Kinsey to Saint Barnabas Medical Center where Kinsey underwent a full body CT scan (to check for metastases) and another MRI.

A diagnosis was confirmed: It was a brain tumor.

Meeting Dr. Randazzo for the first time, Kinsey recalls, “When he got the phone call, Dr. Randazzo took his son home from a football game and came all the way to Saint Barnabas.”

By the time he was coming out of his last test, Dr. Randazzo was already on the scene meeting with Kinsey’s father-in-law. Dr. Bellavia said to Kinsey, “I want you to meet Dr. Randazzo. He is going to be your surgeon.”

Kinsey was then told that he was going to be admitted for additional testing and prep and opened up early next week. He said, “Oh my God. Is there any second opinion?”

Dr. Bellavia was succinct. “The two opinions that matter most are standing right in front of you.”

The Surgery

On September 29, Dr. Randazzo and his team went to work. In a three- to four-hour surgery, they removed a tumor two to three centimeters in size located across the top of Robert Kinsey’s brain. The tumor was sent out for biopsy.

“I was not expecting what came next,” says Kinsey. “I thought it was benign. I’d get out of there and go on with my life. I was just so happy it was over.”

But, the pathology report proved otherwise. “It was like a gut punch,” relates Kinsey.

Kinsey had a glioblastoma. Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common type of malignant primary brain tumor. The cause of glioblastoma, like many types of tumors, is unknown.

Under the care of a neuro-oncologist at Hackensack University Medical Center, Kinsey underwent the standard of care: 33 days of radiation and low dose chemotherapy.

When that was complete, he received a higher dose of chemo. Then, it was over.

“By December 30, I was skiing in Vermont. That’s how good I felt. I was going about my life without any issues.” As time went on, the outcome was looking positive. Doctors were thrilled with the results of Kinsey’s MRIs that he was undergoing every six to eight weeks.

Ultimate Trust

Robert Kinsey felt well informed by Dr. Randazzo and was impressed with his overall demeanor. In fact, he told Dr. Randazzo, “I’m just amazed at your level of confidence. I don’t know where you find that. You’ve got people’s lives in your hands. Clearly, you’ve been doing this for a while.’”

Kinsey’s sense of trust in Dr. Randazzo is palpable.

“At this point in my life, I love Dr. Randazzo like a brother,” Kinsey says choking back tears. “He is not a stereotypical doctor, just throwing out cold, hard facts. He talks with you like a family member—smiling, warm, gentle and very confident.”

Kinsey would need this trust, as two years after the initial surgery, a brain MRI showed what turned out to be necrosis (death of cells through disease or injury) and a tumor. For his surgeon selection, Dr. Randazzo was the only choice.

“I wouldn’t let anyone else touch me,” Kinsey proclaims.

In a second surgery, Dr. Randazzo removed 99 percent of the necrosis and tumor regrowth. Again, Kinsey’s outcome was positive, and he feels good.

Of Dr. Randazzo, Robert Kinsey summarizes, “I’m damn glad he was in my corner.” Then, he pauses. “Whew,” he utters, clearly settling his emotions. “That guy saved my life.”