We trust doctors with our lives and often remember some of them for as long as we draw breath. But how would any of us feel if branded with the initials of a physician who has saved our life, and branded on the inside at that? A renowned English surgeon literally left his mark on the livers of two patients he operated on in 2013 and is now awaiting his verdict on charges of assault by beating. Simon Bramhall, 53, has pleaded guilty to the charges in a case without precedent in the British criminal justice system.
Bramhall carved “SB” on livers he transplanted into one male and one female patient at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, where he worked for 12 years before handing in his resignation in 2014. He might have gotten away with the deed if a colleague hadn’t noticed the initials while performing a follow-up operation on the female patient. They were left by an argon beam, which surgeons use to stop bleeding during liver operations. The harmless marks left by the beam usually disappear after a while, but in this case the tell-tale signs were still in place at the time of the follow-up surgery, and Bramhall was exposed, becoming the subject of an internal disciplinary investigation.