The story of Simon Bramhall, the English surgeon who lasered his initials on the organs he was transplanting

In 2013, Dr. Simon Bramhall transplanted a liver into one of his patients. Then he used an electric beam to engrave the letters “S” and “B” into the organ he had just inserted into the woman’s body. The doctor had thus branded with his monogram the new liver of the woman, unaware of everything. But another surgeon discovered the initials during follow-up surgery when the organ failed about a week later. On Monday, Bramhall was disbarred. According to official disciplinary documents, the liver transplanted in 2013 is one of two organs he has impacted in his career. Questioned by Guardian, she said she did this to relieve stress during long and difficult transplant operations. For those misdeeds, Bramhall was convicted of assault in 2017 and fined.

“Professional arrogance”
In stripping him of his license, the organization that examines complaints against doctors in the United Kingdom, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, found that Bramhall’s actions were “supported by a degree of professional arrogance” and that it “undermined” trust. of people in the medical profession. Bramhall, who became a doctor in 1988, used an argon beam coagulator to burn his initials on patients upon completion of the surgeries, once in February 2013 and again in August of the same year, according to published disciplinary documents. by the court service. Surgeons use electrical beams to stop bleeding during operations and to mark an area in preparation for upcoming procedures. These signs usually heal and disappear. But at least one of Bramhall’s branded livers was otherwise damaged, rendering him unable to heal and erase the doctor’s initials, the BBC reported.

“I made a mistake”
Bramhall was suspended from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 2013 and resigned the following May when he told the BBC he had made “a mistake”. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and was later fined £ 10,000. At his sentencing, the judge acknowledged that the physical harm suffered by the patients was “nothing but transient or insignificant,” although he said the emotional and psychological impact was severe, the Daily Mail reported. One of the victims in a statement said she was “unable to break away from the ordeal I went through” and had “constant flashbacks,” according to the Daily Mail. “What you did was an abuse of power and a betrayal of the trust these patients had invested in you,” the judge said, according to the BBC.

In December 2020, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service suspended the surgeon’s medical license for five months, still deeming him unqualified to practice medicine. But the organization invited him to submit a letter stating that he was able to exercise again. Bramhall did so, calling his crimes “an extreme error of judgment.”

He was a respected professional

Before branding patients’ organs, Bramhall was a respected professional. In 2010, he successfully placed a liver in one of the sickest people on the UK transplant list, even after the plane carrying the liver crashed en route from Belfast to Birmingham. At the time, Bramhall said he was surprised that the organ had survived the crash intact. “Crush and burn,” he told BBC News, “It’s not something we normally do with our donor livers.”

From the operating room to writing
Bramhall wrote several works of fiction with co-author Fionn Murphy, nicknamed Scalpel Stories on their website. The two met in 2012 when Bramhall operated on Murphy and, according to the site, saved her life. One of their books – The Letterman – about a surgeon unmasked for inscribing his initials on a liver donor during a life-saving transplant operation, disrupting his life and that of his patient while creating a firestorm in the media and the medical world. The Web site Scalpel Stories includes a job description. The opening sentence: “It only takes a split second. A moment of madness … and nothing will ever be the same again ».

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