The Benoni plastic surgeon accused of leaving his patients disabled, disfigured and deformed has been ordered to stop practising immediately.
After a four-day hearing in which Dr Luke Gordon’s former patients broke down while testifying about what they went through, the Health Professions Council of South Africa’s (HPCSA) ad hoc committee ordered that he stop practising.
The committee found there was evidence that Gordon had physically and mentally abused his patients and injured them due to his unsafe and unprofessional practices.
“He showed a lack of respect for the dignity of his patients in the way he treated and cared for them both clinically and physically, leaving them with serious permanent emotional and physical scars.”
Gordon was suspended in absentia as he had refused to attend the hearing.
The Star contacted Gordon several times to get a comment on his suspension. He failed to respond to calls or messages.
His lawyer, Carl Wesemann, said Gordon has not contacted him since the suspension was handed down.
The committee dealt with 14 complaints against Gordon.
Among the complainants was bodybuilder Heugene Murray, who lost his leg after a calf implant went wrong; Myrna Bothma, who wanted firmer breasts and a flat stomach but was instead “turned into Frankenstein”; * Donald, who was promised a six-pack but whose body now “looks like it was serrated with a blunt knife”; and Tanya Sleigh, who wanted to reduce her G cup breast but was instead left with fatty, lumpy skin with no nipple and a long red scar running from the top to the bottom of her left breast.
Testifying as an expert witness, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Leslie Berkowitz told the committee Gordon’s history of botching patients’ surgeries dated back 20 years.
As complaints against him increased over the years, his membership of the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of Southern Africa was terminated, he said.
Berkowitz said he and other surgeons constantly offered to help Gordon improve his craft, but he never took them up on their offers.
Berkowitz said he had observed Gordon at work at the Metamorphosis Clinic and described the experience as “frightening”.
“I had to stand there and watch him butcher a woman’s eyes and I was not able to say a word because the patient was awake, as she was under local anaesthetic.”
Berkowitz said when he later asked Gordon why he performed the eyelid surgery in that manner, he said: “Oh, I got a video from America, they did it so I decided to do it.”
The committee said Gordon showed a lack of insight into the magnitude of the operations he performed, displaying a lack of judgement and basic surgical principles expected of a reasonable surgeon in his position.
Personal injury lawyer Gary Austin, who helped some of Gordon’s ex-patients approach the Pretoria High Court to force the HPCSA to take action against him, said they were pleased with the outcome.
But it was unfortunate the result has been achieved at the expense of many patients’ health, he said.
“Since the proceedings began a week ago, we have had more than 30 further complaints made. We are not only pleased that a result has been achieved for past patients, but that future people will be spared from disfigurement,” Austin said.
* Not his real name