Griffith student finds success in medical tourism

Griffith Uni _ DAN DONNER BBioMedSci, MMedRes, GCResMgt PhD Scholar & Sessional Lecturer, Skygen Business HEART FOUNDATION RESEARCH CENTRE Menzies Health Institute Queensland School of Medical Sciences

The world of medical tourism was not one that Dan Donner had ever considered as a potential career path, but today he can be found dividing his time between study at Griffith University and running a flourishing business in Thailand.

Happy to have just handed in his final thesis, the Gold Coast PhD student has been busy travelling between Broadbeach and Bangkok as the co-founder and director of Skygen.

The company offers stem cell joint repair and orthopaedic surgery packages to Australian patients who are seeking alternative treatments overseas.

“My business partner and I set up SkyGen a couple of years ago in response to the increasing rate of osteoarthritis amongst our ageing population and the growing waiting lists that they can typically face for surgeries such as joint replacement and spinal surgery,” says Dan.

A home-grown product of Griffith, Dan started at the university straight out of high school in 2005 with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science. He then completed a Masters Degree in Medical Research in 2010 and began his PhD in 2011.

“Primarily, I work in the area of age-related disease. My PhD thesis focuses on the role of hormones in the development of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. As a PhD student, I’ve given talks to large audiences of doctors at conferences in the USA (Chicago), the UAE (Dubai) and Thailand (Bangkok).

Sharing research findings

I’ve had the privilege to share and discuss my research findings with world-leading experts both overseas and in Australia with the support from the university’s wealth of experienced academic supervisors.”

“Thanks to my time and studies at Griffith I’ve developed the confidence to seek out health issues on a global scale and take the actions necessary to solve them.”

It was this background, alongside a significant amount of network building, which allowed Dan and his business partner to develop Skygen, a company which he says has the power to connect healthcare systems around the world.

“Skygen has partnered withinternationalleaders inorthopaedic surgery and regenerative medicine in Germany and Thailand to medically repair or replace the damaged joints of patients who can otherwise be put on surgery waiting lists back home in Oz.”

Dan is ambivalent about the controversy that medical tourism has been shrouded in during the last few years it has been gaining in popularity.

“Of course everyone hears about the few horror stories of people going overseas for low quality medical treatment. However these are generally people who try and organise things for themselves at dodgy establishments that may not have the required accreditations. To try and tar all medical tourism with the same brush would be foolish.

“We only use the JCI accredited hospitals which adhere to international standards.”

“Although medical tourism is a relatively new industry here in Australia, if I hadn’t had the exposure to overseas healthcare systems as a Griffith student I would never have had the opportunity to now be making an enormous difference to the lives of countless young and old Australians living with joint and spinal injury.”