High-Tech Helper

A Henry Mayo surgeon successfully used an advanced new microscope to assist in the removal of Dan Gillespie’s malignant brain tumor




Dan Gillespie

“The new microscope made it possible for [Dr. Liker] to remove more of the tumor than he would have otherwise been able to. Everyone we spoke to said that he is the best, and we are very happy with him.” —Dan Gillespie

In January 2017, Dan Gillespie, PhD, completed radiation therapy and chemotherapy for a malignant brain tumor. The tumor was initially discovered when 78-year-old Gillespie was brought to Henry Mayo’s Emergency Department in October 2016; he underwent brain surgery to remove it a month later. 

That operation, performed by neurosurgeon Mark Liker, MD, involved the first use of Henry Mayo’s recently acquired Zeiss Pentero 900 microscope. At a cost of more than $500,000, the new microscope offers high-definition visualization of the brain, allowing for more complete resection and optimal patient results. According to Dr. Liker, the microscope is one of only three in the region.

“Dr. Liker removed as much as he could, and it’s my understanding that the new microscope made it possible for him to remove more of the tumor than he would have otherwise been able to,” said Gillespie. “Everyone we spoke to said that he is the best, and we are very happy with him.” Gillespie and his wife, Carol, have lived in Castaic for almost 15 years. He is a retired physicist who worked at China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center for 30 years, and wrote three books and more than 90 papers. Gillespie also served as a consultant, primarily for the University of California, Santa Barbara, from 2002 to 2015. In January 2017, he was an honorary speaker at the Gordon Research Conference in Ventura.

The Gillespies have been married for more than 40 years and have two sons and two grandchildren: Erica, 16, a straight-A student and ballerina, who is also a volunteer at Henry Mayo; and Kevin, 13, a straight-A student and the leading alto saxophone player for the California All-State Middle School Jazz Band. 

“Since the surgery, I have a positive attitude toward things,” said Gillespie. “[That’s] partially caused by the favorable [use of the new microscope] that accompanied Dr. Liker’s operation on me last year.” IYH