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13 Jan, 2022 14:45

Surgeon caught branding transplant organ banned from practice

After he was found to be leaving a personal mark on transplant organs, the UK doctor lost his right to operate
Surgeon caught branding transplant organ banned from practice

A British surgeon who got caught branding his initials on the transplant livers of his patients has been struck off the medical register. The practitioner had previously been convicted on two counts of common assault.

The liver-branding surgeon, Dr. Simon Bramhall, was erased from the UK medical register by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) on Monday. Reviewing his case, the MPTS said the surgeon’s stunt was an “act borne out of a degree of professional arrogance” that “undermined” public trust for medics. The ruling means Bramhall will no be longer able to engage into any medical practice in Britain.

This scandal has been ongoing for a number of years, after the surgeon was caught using an argon beam burner – a coagulant device commonly used in surgeries – to inscribe his initials on transplant organs. The doctor’s mark was discovered by another surgeon after the transplant of one patient failed and the practitioner had to perform an emergency surgery. The liver was found to bear sizeable 1.6-inch (4cm) initials of Bramhall on its side.

In December 2017, the doctor admitted two counts of common assault by beating, confessing branding the livers of two patients back in February and August of 2013 while working at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Since Bramhall’s personal mark did not do any actual damage to the patients, he walked away from the case with a community work order and a fine of £10,000 ($13,635).

The doctor was suspended in December 2020, with the MPTS stating his actions displayed such “professional arrogance” that it effectively “strayed into criminal behaviour.” Last June, however, the doctor was deemed to be fit for practice once again and the suspension order was revoked.

The latest revisiting of the case, however, produced an entirely different outcome for Bramhall. While the tribunal acknowledged that as a result of his actions “no lasting physical damage was caused to either patient,” one of them suffered “significant emotional harm” from the liver affair, which was extensively covered by media at the time.