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London -Patients unleashed their fury on Thursday night at a British surgeon suspected of botching 1 000 breast cancer operations.
One woman, who was among scores allegedly given a needless mastectomy by Ian Paterson, said: “Put him in a room with all 1,000 of us and let us hack away at his body.”
Others said Paterson, 54, had robbed them of their femininity.
The surgeon has been suspended from his job and is being investigated by police over allegations that he convinced 450 healthy women to have operations they did not need. He is also accused of performing partial mastectomies on a further 700 patients – which may have increased the likelihood of them developing cancer.
Some of the women said they felt mentally tortured by being made to think for years that they had a dreaded disease when they were, in fact, perfectly healthy. One woman even planned her funeral.
Some are demanding compensation, while others are seeking criminal charges, arguing that a man who attacked them with a knife in the street would face jail.
Gail Boichat, a 57-year-old mother of three, who had an unnecessary mastectomy in 1995, said Mr Paterson should face the wrath of his patients.
“He should be put in a room with the women he has operated on. With all 1,000 of them, that’s how we feel,” she said.
A friend added: “We always say that. See what they do to him. Hack away bits of his body bit by bit like he did.”
Boichat, who is married to Alan, a 60-year-old construction manager, was treated by Dr Paterson at the Good Hope NHS hospital in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.
He told her a lump in her right breast was cancerous and performed a cleavage-sparing mastectomy, which leaves some breast tissue behind for cosmetic reasons. The operation goes against national surgical guidelines because it increases the risk of cancer returning but Boichat was unaware of anything unusual.
Paterson also prescribed tamoxifen, a strong cancer drug which caused Boichat, who was 40 at the time, to go through a traumatic early menopause.
This February she was recalled to hospital and told the lump in her breast was a blocked duct rather than cancer and that she should never have had her mastectomy.
On Thursday, Boichat described how the news had left her feeling angry, confused and guilty at having received sympathy from friends for so long.
Not having her right breast was a constant cause of self-consciousness, she said, adding: “There’s the scar to remind you. Now it reminds me that I shouldn’t have had it and that I should look like any other woman. You can’t help it making you feel less feminine.”
Helen Gardiner, 41, who runs her own recruitment company, found out last month that she was operated on by Paterson five times unnecessarily.
The mother of four, from Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, was told each time that she had pre-cancerous lumps in her breast but has since seen pathology reports that show only healthy tissue was removed. She was also recommended for a mastectomy by Paterson but says she refused because she thought that was ‘drastic’ considering the supposed lumps were not cancerous.
“I don’t think a lot of people have ever experienced this. It’s a bit like Harold Shipman,” she added. “I put my trust in him. I feel extremely angry. He endangered my life. I feel like I’ve been assaulted.”
She said the surgeon should face criminal charges.
Paula Gelsthorpe, 54, from Birmingham, had needless lumpectomies in 2002 and 2009.
The dog groomer said the vicious street assault she suffered two years ago was not as bad as Paterson “pretending he was the man who could save me”.
“It is an assault on the body and mind,” she added. “He is a charming man and seemed so compassionate and understanding. I feel betrayed. He is a con man.”
Victoria Weaver, 42, said she planned her funeral after being told by the doctor that she had cancer. She is now waiting to find out if she ever, in fact, had the disease.
Paterson worked at NHS and private hospitals across the Midlands from 1994 until he was suspended last month.
He was first investigated by the Heart of England NHS Trust over his use of cleavage-sparing operations in 2004 and was told to stop performing them in 2007.
Seven hundred of the women he treated were then recalled to the hospital to have their conditions reviewed.
About 100 of his patients have launched claims for compensation and an NHS helpline has been set up for worried women to contact.
Police on Thursday confirmed he is facing a criminal inquiry, although they said no arrests had been made. aterson was not available for comment on Thursday at his £1.4million mansion in Edgbaston, Birmingham.