Former CIA spymaster Tony Mendez spoke publicly for the first time about his battle with Parkinson’s disease in a special session at the Symposium. Tony and his wife, Jonna, addressed his Parkinson’s diagnosis, his recent deep brain stimulation treatment, and their hope that focused ultrasound might soon be a noninvasive treatment option for others suffering. The discussion was moderated by Washington Post reporter Michael Rosenwald, and subsequently published in the Post. Today.com also reported on the news.
Mendez, the mastermind behind the ARGO mission, became a household name following the 2012 film starring Ben Affleck. After his CIA career in intelligence technical development, Tony settled into life as an artist and author and has recently embarked on a rigorous speaking circuit. This summer, Tony’s symptoms from Parkinson’s disease could no longer be managed medically. Tony underwent deep brain stimulation (DBS), an invasive surgical procedure where an electrode is implanted into the brain and a stimulator is implanted in the chest to deliver small electrical pulses to block some neurologic symptoms.
While research is ongoing, Tony believes that focused ultrasound is the future and may one day provide patients like him with the same therapeutic benefit without invasive surgery. As advocates for new technology, Tony and Jonna became interested in the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and joined our Council earlier this year. It is their hope that by bringing awareness to the disease as well as supporting the development of innovative noninvasive treatment options, they can help future patients avoid the scalpel.
Thanks to support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, The Focused Ultrasound Foundation is working with leading research institutions to study focused ultrasound for Parkinson’s dyskinesia.