He didn't think anyone would see
Simon Bramhall was a renowned liver, spleen, and pancreas surgeon working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. He helped transplant vital, life-saving organs into patients so that their lives could be prolonged. He was a life-saver to many, but his strange behavior while operating on them has brought him into the spotlight. He may never practice medicine again after her was found guilty of branding his patients on the inside.
Not Fun and Games
In 2013, Simon Bramhall’s colleague was performing a follow-up surgery on one of his patients and noticed something very odd on the liver that was transplanted into the patient. It appeared to be the initials “SB” burned into the organ. The consultant surgeon soon realized that it was Simon’s initials, and the doctor was suspended from his position. An internal disciplinary investigation was launched, and it was realized that at least one other patient had the same branding.
During the investigation, it was concluded that Simon used an argon beam coagulator to burn his initials into the transplanted livers of two patients on Feb. 9 and Aug. 21 of 2013. The instrument he committed the acts with is used to seal blood vessels. While the marks didn’t impact the function of the organs, it was considered to be an abuse of his power.
Simon resigned from his position in 2014, but the investigation into his behavior was still on-going. Joyce Robins of the patients’ advocacy group Patient Concern said about the investigation, “This is a patient we are talking about, not an autograph book.”
Despite the growing backlash, not all of his patients were bothered by the branding. Split-transplant recipient Tracy Scriven told the Birmingham Mail, “Even if he did put his initials on a transplanted liver, is it really that bad? I wouldn’t have cared if he did it to me. The man saved my life.” Simon successfully transplanted two-thirds of a donor organ into Tracey and the remaining one-third into a one-year-old boy.
In 2010, the doctor was hailed as a hero when he was able to transplant a liver that had been transported on a plane that crashed into a patient.
The General Medical Council issued Simon a formal warning in February 2017. It stated in part,
“It risks bringing the profession into disrepute and it must not be repeated. Whilst this failing in itself is not so serious as to require any restriction on Mr. Bramhall’s registration, it is necessary in response to issue this formal warning.”
Standard practice dictates that the GMC must investigated possible criminal acts.
Simon finally faced a judge in Birmingham Crown Court about the brandings on Wednesday, Dec. 13. He pled guilty to two counts of assault and not guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Prosecutor Tony Badenoch said that the case is “highly unusual and complex case, both within the expert medical testimony served by both sides and in law.”
“It is factually, so far as we have been able to establish, without legal precedent in criminal law. His acts in marking the livers of those patients were deliberate and conscious acts. It will be for others to decide whether and to what extent his fitness to practise is impaired.”
Simon is currently out on bail, and he will have a sentencing trial on Jan. 12.
What kind of punishment do you think that this criminal act deserves since it didn’t harm the function of the patients’ bodies? Let us know in the comments and SHARE this story!