It’s usually quite acceptable to be proud of your work and to commit your name to it. But most people would draw the line at signing their initials into the flesh of internal organs. Most people that is, except British surgeon, Simon Bramhall.

On Wednesday, 15 December, 53-year-old Bramhall gave patients something new to worry about: Getting their doctors’ initials burned into their organs while they are unconscious.

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According to The Telegraph, Simon Bramhall has pleaded guilty to two counts of assault after he had used an electric beam – typically used to seal blood vessels – to mark “SB” into a man and woman’s livers during their transplant operations in 2013.

Doing this normally would not be obtrusive or even harmful, as the marks would fade. Unfortunately, the woman’s liver did not heal as it was expected to. It was during her follow-up operation that doctors allegedly discovered Bramhall’s initials, The Telegraph reported.

Bramhall had worked as a liver, spleen and pancreatic surgeon for 12 years at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, West Midlands. He also tutored medical students and supervised postgraduate students who were pursuing higher degrees, The Telegraph reported.

In 2010, Bramhall made newspaper headlines when he performed a lifesaving liver transplant procedure. The liver was recovered from a pilot who had crashed in a private plane in Birmingham. Bramhall said at the time that it was “amazing” that the pilot’s organ had remained intact.

After the 2013 accusations, Bramhall was reinstated in April 2014, pending an internal investigation, but then decided to resign from the hospital in May 2014. According to The Birmingham Mail, he claimed that he decided to step down because of a stress-induced illness.

At the time, he admitted to the BBC that he had made “a mistake.”

“I was not dismissed. I made the decision on 16 May I would hand in my notice,” he said. “It is a bit raw and I have to move on,” he added.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Tony Badenoch said Bramhall’s actions were part of a “highly unusual and complex case” that so far was “without legal precedent in criminal law,” according to The Telegraph.

The guilty pleas “represent an acceptance that that which he did was not just ethically wrong but criminally wrong,” he said, according to The Guardian. He added that it will be up to others to decide whether his license to practice surgery will be compromised.

The General Medical Council in February issued a warning to Bramhall, saying his conduct didn’t meet the standards required of a doctor, The Guardian reported.

“It risks bringing the profession into disrepute and it must not be repeated,” the GMC said at the time. “Whilst this failing is not so serious as to require any restriction on Mr. Bramhall’s registration, it is necessary in response to issuing this formal warning.”

On Wednesday, the GMC said it was not uncommon for the council to access doctors’ criminal convictions. Bramhall admitted the assaults in a hearing in Birmingham crown court according to several news outlets. In doing so, he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by beating, but he pleaded not guilty to the more serious charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Prosecutors were said to have accepted his pleas, and he is scheduled to be sentenced on January 12.

Crown Prosecution Service specialist prosecutor Elizabeth Reid on Wednesday called Bramhall a “respected surgeon” who had abused his power.

“It was the intentional application of unlawful force to a patient whilst anesthetized,” she said, according to the Telegraph.

Bramhall could not be immediately reached by The Post for comment.

In a 2014 story in The Birmingham Mail, one of Bramhall’s transplant patients, Tracy Scriven, said she didn’t think the initials were a big deal. “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,” she added. “The man saved my life.”

What are your thoughts?
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