Former Queen Elizabeth Hospital surgeon Simon Bramhall has admitted burning his initials into the livers of patients during organ transplants after West Midlands Police brought landmark assault charges against him.
Bramhall, aged 53, from Redditch, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault on Wednesday (13/12) on day three of his trial at Birmingham Crown Court in a case that set legal precedent in criminal law.
He performed the liver transplants at Queen Elizabeth hospital in August 2013 and used an ‘argon beam coagulator’ – an instrument designed to seal bleeding blood vessels – to sear his initials ‘SB’ into the organ. The marking was discovered by another surgeon who performed a second transplant after the initial one failed.
The court heard there was nothing to suggest the failure of the liver was due to the ‘initialling’ and that the liver would, in time, regenerate and leave no permanent marking.
However, the procedure was deemed highly unethical.
The General Medical Council were informed and it came to light that an anaesthetist had witnessed Bramhall perform the same act on a different patient’s liver in February 2013.
Both patients made a full recovery from their transplants.
West Midlands Police Detective Constable Paul Read, from Force CID, said: “This was a totally unnecessary action by a renowned surgeon who had conducted over 350 liver transplants since becoming a consultant on the liver unit in 2002.
“He cannot offer any explanation for his actions. The court heard that his actions were an arrogant disregard for the dignity and feelings of the unconscious patient… and that it was an abuse of position and patient trust to use the coagulator in the way he did.
“Although he did not lose his job, he resigned as he felt is position had become untenable.
“The patient, although fully recovered, felt violated by the surgeon’s actions and I hope his admission of guilt goes some way to assist her recovery.”
Bramhall will be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday 12th January.