A surgeon has admitted to signing his initials on the livers of two patients while they were undergoing transplant surgery.
What are the effects of branding internal organs, and will it make you mad if it happened to you?
Surgeon Brands Patients' Livers
Simon Bramhall, a 53-year-old surgeon who worked at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, United Kingdom, signed his initials "SB" on the livers of patients during surgeries conducted on Feb. 9 and Aug. 21, 2013. He was suspended in December of that year after a colleague spotted the signature during a follow-up procedure, and then later resigned from the hospital in May 2014.
In a hearing at the Birmingham Crown Court, Bramhall pleaded guilty to two counts of assault related to the signed livers. To carve his initials, the surgeon used an argon beam, which is a tool for stopping livers from bleeding during operations and for highlighting areas that the procedure will focus on.
Prosecutors said that Bramhall's actions abused the trust that patients placed on him. The surgeon, at the time of his resignation from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, admitted that what he did was a mistake.
Effects Of Signed Livers On Patients' Health
The brandings that Bramhall made on the livers, however, are usually not harmful and normally disappear after a while. The marks left behind by the argon beam will not impair the function of the liver.
However, the signature that Bramhall left behind in one of his male patients did not heal over, allowing it to be discovered by a colleague. An investigation revealed that Bramhall did the same thing on a female patient.
It appears that even if Bramhall did sign his initials on the liver of his patients, he was not doing any harm. A former patient, Tracy Scriven, even told the Birmingham Mail in early 2014 that it was wrong to suspend Bramhall.
"Even if he did put his initials on a transplanted liver, is it really that bad?," Scriven asked. "I wouldn't have cared if he did it to me. The man saved my life," she added.
If your surgeon did something like this to you, would you be mad? If you think the case is too farfetched to happen to anyone else, think again. In 2000, a doctor in New York was said to have etched his initials into the abdomen of a woman he performed a C-section on, and in 2010, a gynecologist in California branded the name of a woman on her uterus.
Bramhall is currently out on bail, with his sentence to be served at the Birmingham Crown Court on Jan. 12. The type of sentence that the surgeon is facing, however, is currently unknown.