A liver transplant surgeon in the United Kingdom was fined £10,000 and sentenced to community service after admitting to burning his initials into the livers of two patients during transplant surgeries.

The surgeon in question, Simon Bramhall, used an argon beam to sign his initials “SB” onto the patients’ livers. This tool is typically used to stop livers from bleeding during operations and to highlight areas to be worked on. Interestingly, the marks left by the argon beam do not impair the liver’s function and disappear by themselves.

Bramhall’s actions were discovered when another surgeon spotted the initials during a follow-up surgery on one of his patients. A photograph of the 4cm-high branding was taken on a mobile phone. Following this discovery, Bramhall was suspended from his post as a consultant surgeon at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital in 2013. He tendered his resignation the following summer amid an internal disciplinary investigation into his conduct.

In a further development, Bramhall was struck off the medical register. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) stated that his actions “undermined” public trust in the medical profession. Although no lasting physical damage was caused to either patient, one of them suffered “significant emotional harm”. The tribunal noted that Bramhall was of “previous good character” but erasure from the medical register was the “proportionate sanction”.

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