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Surgeon Branded Initials On Patient’s Transplanted Liver

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A surgeon who has done the bizarre and rather unbelievable has been suspended from practice and has admitted to assault by beating.

Simon Bramhall, 53 years old, was accused of burning his initials onto the livers of two transplant patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in February and August 2013, the BBC reports. The doctor was suspended later that same year.

Bramhall pleaded guilty to two charges at Birmingham Crown Court, and will be sentenced on January 12. The doctor denied the more serious charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and the plea was accepted by prosecutors.

Tony Badenoch, a prosecutor, called this case “without legal precedent in criminal law.”

Bramhall came to public attention in 2010 when he transplanted a liver that was taken from a burning aircraft into a patient. Another surgeon discovered Bramhall’s branded initials on the organ.

Liver surgeons use an argon beam in order to stop livers from bleeding, but they can also use the beam to burn the surface of the liver when necessary to draw where an operation will take place. Usually, these marks are not harmful to the liver and disappear with time. But in one of Bramhall’s patients, the organ was already damaged from the fire and so was unable to heal itself normally, causing the marked initials to remain.

Badenoch called this a “highly unusual and complex case, both within the expert medical testimony served by both sides and in law.” What Bramhall had done was not an isolated incident and required “some skill and concentration. It was done in the presence of colleagues,” he added. This marking of the liver was done “with a disregard for the feelings of unconscious patients.”

Bramhall had a disciplinary hearing with University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust in May 2014 and resigned afterwards, saying he had made “a mistake.”



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