British surgeon Simon Bramhall plead guilty to two counts of assault on Wednesday after patients found his initials etched into their organs. For over a decade, Bramhall was an elite doctor at Britain’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The 53-year-old surgeon used a laser that’s generally used to close up blood vessels for his markings, The Telegraph reports. Normally, the wounds inflicted by the beam would heal without a problem, but for one female patient, those wounds didn’t seal up and she required a follow-up operation, which is where physicians discovered the markings. At least two instances of the bodily vandalism have been uncovered, though there’s a possibility that more exist.
Part of the problem that prosecutor’s face is the absurdity of the case, as one attorney explained to The Telegraph: “this has been a highly unusual and complex case, both within the expert medical testimony served by both sides and in law … it is factually, so far as we have been able to establish, without legal precedent in criminal law.” Prosecutors argued that Bramhall’s acts were “not just ethically wrong, but criminally wrong.” They also said that the surgeon’s colleagues were in the room when he carved the initials into patients.
Bramhall caught a bit of fame in 2010 when he successfully performed a transplant on a patient using a liver that was recovered from a plane crash, The Washington Post reports. But his unethical activities caught up with him in 2014 when doctors discovered “SB” marked into livers and the star surgeon was forced to resign. At the time, he told the Birmingham Mail that he was leaving for health reasons brought on by stress. Former patients rallied support for the doctor, one remarked “it’s wrong to suspend him in this way. The man saved my life.”
In addition to his work at the hospital, Bramhall also tutored medical students and supervised postgraduate students. He was released on bail and will be sentenced on January 12.