A SURGEON has been suspended after allegedly branding his initials on a transplant patient’s liver.
Simon Bramhall, a highly experienced consultant based in Birmingham, is accused of burning “SB” on to a patient’s liver as he operated on him.
The letters were spotted by a colleague during routine surgery on the unnamed patient. It is feared the initials may have been imprinted on hundreds of other transplant recipients.
Mr Bramhall, 48, has worked at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for more than ten years. The surgeon is a widely acknowledged liver transplant expert, who has published extensively on the subject and carried out pioneering operations.
Mr Bramhall, from Redditch, Worcestershire., is now under investigation over the alleged offences. It is suspected that he used a beam of argon gas, normally for sealing vessels, to mark his patient. Experts say the gas would leave superficial burns, but is not usually harmful.
Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, added: “This is a patient we are talking about, not an autograph book.”
A spokesman for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said it had suspended a surgeon but declined to name him.
However, sources have named Mr Bramhall.
In a statement, the trust said: “Following an allegation of misconduct, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust has suspended a surgeon while an internal investigation is completed”.
When approached, Mr Bramhall denied he was suspended.
Yesterday, an insider was reported as saying: “It is quite astonishing to think someone may have done this, especially someone as experienced at 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?
“Now people may think otherwise about coming to the hospital, if the allegations are true.
“I’m just a little shocked that something like this may have happened right under everyone’s noses.
“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.
“It could have happened hundreds of times, who knows? It was just luck that this incident was brought to light.”
Earlier this year, Mr Bramhall was in the news when he performed the 4,000th liver transplant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which has been a centre of excellence for the procedure since 1982.
In the past, Mr Bramhall has spoken out against scarce donor organs meant for NHS patients being sold to wealthy foreigners for tens of thousands of pounds.
The surgeon was critical when it was reported that Kings College Hospital in London had given livers to patients from Greece, Cyprus, Kuwait, Libya and Dubai, at a time when 550 NHS patients were waiting for new organs.
Mr Bramhall has played a role in publicising improved survival rates for liver transplants and in 2011 he performed a operation to save the life of a teenager, whose donor liver had been rescued from the burning wreckage of a crashed plane.
The organ was being flown to Birmingham in a Cessna jet, which crashed in thick fog. Rescuers were able to save the liver, which was in pristine condition in its protective box.
He was also part of a team which in 2009 performed a multiple organ transplant, which saw a teenager receive a new liver, bowels and pancreas.