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August 21, 1987

Adrenal-to-Brain Transplants Continue...

JAMA. 1987;258(7):881. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400070017003

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MUHAMMAD ALI may have changed his mind and joined scores of patients with Parkinson's disease who are waiting for an adrenal-to-brain transplant.

The former world heavyweight boxing champion, who now has Parkinson's syndrome, told reporters after consulting neurosurgeon Ignacio Madrazo, MD, DSc, in Mexico City in mid-July that he had decided against immediate surgery for his condition. At the time, Madrazo had transplanted chromaffin cells from an adrenal gland to the caudate nucleus of the brain in 18 patients with Parkinson's disease.

Ali's physician, Dennis Cope, MD, University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, said that although his patient is taking levodopa, Ali's condition is not sufficiently advanced to warrant the experimental procedure. Cope described Ali's tremors and speech difficulties as "pugilist's brain syndrome"— the result of brain injuries sustained during a 22-year career. But in early August Ali told reporters he would probably have the operation.

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