“Conduct Unbecoming” – 2003

A special report for SABC 3’s Special Assignment program looking at medical malpractice in the field of “plastic surgery” in South Africa today.

His website proudly proclaims:

“I am the most senior Academic Plastic Surgeon in South Africa and a Professor for 21 years.
I belong to the International Aesthetic Surgery Association, International Burn Society & many more South African Societies.
I have a Masters Degree in Plastic Surgery & have a fellowship from the American College of Surgeons & am an associate of the South African College of Plastic Surgeons.
Although I cover the full spectrum of Cosmetic Surgery my interest is mainly aesthetic surgery such as facial, body contouring & reconstructive breast surgery.”

And yet, on enquiry – the Health Professions Council of South Africa will confirm that since 1999 they have received 46 complaints related to incompetence & malpractice from patients operated on by this particular Plastic Surgeon – the most recent complaint having been lodged on 13th January this year (2003).

One of these cases is Lorraine who went to see this surgeon because of a lump in her breast. The lump turned out to be benign, but because Lorraine was conscious of a history of breast-cancer in her family, she was easily persuaded to let him perform what he termed the “Rolls-Royce of operations” on her – where he removed both of her breasts & rebuilt new ones out of tissue from her stomach.

Six surgical procedures later, for Lorraine the result turned out to be a disaster which devastated her life – causing a break-up in her relationship at the time & driving her to contemplate suicide.

Today she is living with a situation where her left breast is a D-cup and her right a B-cup. During the numerous procedures, through infection she lost her belly-button as well as two subsequent reconstructed ones.

Her reconstructed breasts developed gangrene & the most devastating thing was when her left nipple fell off in the bath – she was so confused & desperate that she even considered trying to get a replacement from the mortuary.

As a result of muscle tissue cut out from her stomach, Lorraine can not get in and out of a sitting position without using her arms to lift herself out – she has no strength in her stomach muscles.

Remarkably, in all of the cases heard – including Lorraine’s – the HPCSA has ruled in favour of this particular surgeon & he has not even so much as received an official reprimand.

How is this possible?

Tonight, in “Conduct Unbecoming”, Special Assignment investigates allegations of malpractice & incompetence against South Africa’s self-proclaimed “most senior” Academic Plastic Surgeon.