Seattle, WA, U.S.A. March 8, 2000
After 13 years, justice for boy left brain-damaged after circumcision
Betrayed by doctors and lawyer, family finally wins case
A Washington couple has finally won justice for their son, 13 years after he was left brain-damaged after his circumcision.
When Jacob Sweet was born at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska, in January 1986, it was a dream come true for his parents. But Beverly and Gary Sweet's dream took a nightmarish turn only nine days later when they took him back to the hospital for treatment of an infected circumcision and the hospital returned a severely brain-damaged and blind child. The nightmare continued for 13 years - but a major settlement was announced today between the family, now of Bothell, Washington, and the Alaska law firm that handled the Sweet's medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the pediatrician who treated Jacob.
The Sweets were twice forced to fight for their son in court. First, they sought justice from the hospital and doctor who they allege caused Jacob's injuries, and who then "lost" the medical records critical to proving their case. Then, after Alaska lawyer Alan Sherry mishandled that case, they were forced to resort to the courts again.
Seattle attorney Mark Johnson represented the Sweets in the second suit, for legal malpractice, arguing that Sherry had misrepresented himself as a seasoned malpractice lawyer and then failed to argue their case properly.
"This has been tragedy at every turn for this family," Johnson said. "First the healthcare system devastated their child. Then, when they most needed an aggressive, experienced and competent lawyer, an attorney with no malpractice experience misled them and failed to properly [argue] the case. That cost them their opportunity to recover damages from the hospital and the pediatrician."
The Underlying Medical Malpractice Case
The Sweet's tragedy started on January 25, 1986, in Anchorage, Alaska, when they brought nine-day-old Jacob back to Providence Hospital after he exhibited signs of an infected circumcision. [Actually, their tragedy began when they were given the advice that convinced them to agree to have him circumcised. HY] Jacob was admitted to the pediatric ward and had seizures for 24 hours, but their pediatrician, Dr. Daniel Tulip, was absent most of that time and failed to refer Jacob to a neonatologist until after he had suffered brain damage that would leave him physically devastated, developmentally delayed, and utterly dependent for the rest of his life.
[At that trial, Dr Thomas Wiswell, an expert witness for the defendants, argued that Jacob's brain damage could not have resulted from his circumcision, but was probably caused by an unknown virus.]
The Sweet's calamity compounded when the Alaska law firm they hired to try their medical malpractice suit improperly handled the case. Jacob's medical records disappeared shortly after his time in the hospital, suggesting that someone had tried to cover up a negligent act. Sweet's first legal team failed to present this evidence properly. The Sweets lost the suit, and with it, any hope of recovering damages from the hospital.
With mounting medical bills, they hired Mark Johnson to represent them in an action for legal negligence. Legal malpractice cases are difficult to prove, because the plaintiff must not only prove the defendant attorney was negligent, but that the client would have won the case if the attorney had acted differently.
The amount awarded to the Sweets is confidential as part of the settlement agreement.
"This brings some peace of mind to our lives, although we are still convinced that Jacob's doctor and the hospital have never told the truth," said Beverly Sweet. "At least now we can provide for Jacob's medical care and future."
Male Circumcision, the unkindest cut
By Dr. Gifford Jones
Special to C-Health
ABC News, U.S.A., by Susan Donaldson James, March 12, 2012
New York City is investigating the death last September of a baby who contracted herpes after a "ritual circumcision with oral suction," in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish ceremony known in Hebrew as metzitzah b'peh.
The district attorney's office in Kings County Brooklyn is investigating the death of the 2-week-old baby at Maimonides Hospital, but would not disclose the name of the mohel or whether there would be a prosecution.
The 5,000-year-old religious practice is seen primarily in ultra-Orthodox and some orthodox communities and has caused an alarm among city health officials. In 2003 and 2004, three babies, including a set of twins, were infected with Type 1 herpes; the cases were linked to circumcision, and one boy died.
The mohel who performed the procedures, Yitzchok Fischer, was later banned from doing circumcisions, according to The New York Times. It is not known if he was involved in this recent death.
"It's certainly not something any of us recommend in the modern infection-control era," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University.
"This is a ritual of historic Abraham that's come down through the ages, and now it has met modern science," he said. "It was never a good idea, and there is a better way to do this." (The modern Jewish community uses a sterile aspiration device to clean the wound in a circumcision.)
In the 2004 death and the more recent one, a mohel infected the penile wounds with Type 1 herpes I (HSV-1), which affects the mouth and throat. It is different from Type 2 or genital herpes (HSV-2), which is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause deadly infections when a newborn passes through an infected birth canal.
Neonatal herpes is "almost always" a fatal infection, according to Schaffner. "It's a bad virus. [Infants] have no immunity and so it's a very serious illness. Now we have another death -- an unnecessary, incredibly tragic death."
The Canadian Press
Dec. 22, 2011
VANCOUVER - A B.C. man who performed a botched circumcision on his four-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his home has lost an appeal of his conviction and been found guilty of a more serious charge.
The B.C. Court of Appeal has stayed the man's conviction for criminal negligence causing bodily harm and convicted him of aggravated assault.
Court heard the boy was born premature at only 2.5 pounds and could not be circumcised at the time, nor did his parents request it.
South Korean Doctors
Peak age of circumcision of males in Korea is 12 years old! Read More ..
UTIs are rare
"Of every 1,000 boys who are circumcised 2 will be admitted to hospital for a urinary tract infection (UTI) before they are one year old."
"Of every 1,000 boys who are not circumcised 7 will be admitted to hospital for a UTI before they are one year old. "
Sur 1 000 garÃ§ons circoncis 2 seront hospitalisÃ©s en raison d'une infection urinaire avant l'Ã¢ge d'un an.
Sur 1 000 garÃ§ons non circoncis 7 seront hospitalisÃ©s par suite d'une infection urinaire avant l'Ã¢ge d'un an.
Anyone who states that urinary tract infections are common among newborn baby boys, and therefore advocates that the genital mutilation of boys ( male circumcision) will stop urinary tract infections, is a liar or misinformed.
Besides, urinary tract infections are entirely treatable.
Men's News Daily Online
Commentary on the David Reimer botched circumcision / gender changed case
CanadianCRC editor's Note: Reminder about our policy: Many sides of an issue are expressed in articles on this website. Many articles contain points of view which should be heard but are not the position of the Canadian Children's Rights Council.
Read what the medical profession associations have to say on this issue
The BMA does not believe that parental preference alone constitutes sufficient grounds for performing a surgical procedure on a child unable to express his own view. . . . Parental preference must be weighed in terms of the child's interests. . . . The BMA considers that the evidence concerning health benefit from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it. . . . Some doctors may wish to not perform circumcisions for reasons of conscience. Doctors are under no obligation to comply with a request to circumcise a child. Read More ..