London - A leading UK surgeon is under investigation for allegedly branding his initials into a transplant patient’s liver.
The consultant – said to be Simon Bramhall, 48 – is accused of burning “SB” on to a man’s liver during an operation.
The letters were found by a colleague performing a follow-up procedure on the unnamed patient.
The discovery has led to fears there could be other transplant recipients who have had the same done to them.
Bramhall has been at his post at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for more than a decade.
A source said: “It is quite astonishing to think someone may have done this, especially someone as experienced as Mr Bramhall.
“I am hoping this is just a mistake, I don’t know what would possess someone to do that to another human being.
“What gives a person the right to do that to another? There should be trust between the two people, although now people may think otherwise about coming to the hospital if the allegations are true.
“Imagine if the person died and was an organ donor, would the new owner of that liver want it to be branded? I doubt it very much.”
A spokesman for University Hospitals Birmingham National Health Service Foundation Trust said it had “suspended a surgeon while an internal investigation is completed”. The spokesman declined to name the surgeon.
Bramhall, from Redditch in Worcestershire, denied he had been suspended. He was unavailable for comment on Friday.
It is alleged the surgeon under investigation used a beam of argon gas – normally used for sealing vessels – to brand his patient.
Experts said it would leave superficial burns but was thought not to be harmful.
Joyce Robins of Patient Concern said: “This is a patient we are talking about, not an autograph book.”
Bramhall has been consultant surgeon at the liver unit of Queen Elizabeth since 2002, dealing with liver, biliary and pancreatic surgical matters.
These include liver transplantation, pancreatic cancer surgery and liver surgery.
Bramhall is also involved in tutoring and examining medical students and supervising postgraduate students in higher degrees, management and research.
In November 2010, he carried out a transplant involving a donor liver which was being flown to Birmingham when the Cessna carrying it from Belfast crash-landed in heavy fog at the city’s airport.
Two pilots were hurt but the liver was undamaged, enabling the operation to go ahead as scheduled.
Kate Trevener, who was 18 when she received the liver, told just last week how her body rejected the organ eight days later, as it did a second organ.
She has now been told, however, that a third transplant has been a complete success. – Daily Mail