Category Archives: Death

So what happens when a baby dies after circumcision?

In my time as an intactivist, I have seen this scenario play out a few times. A parent, relative or friend of a relative posts in facebook asking for prayers for a baby who became severely ill after a circumcision. One of them kept bleeding and had seizures. Another one developed a UTI and a fever after a second procedure to try to fix an already botched circumcision.

Then the baby dies.

The intactivist community at large starts expressing sadness and grief, but they also start sharing the story, hoping that some parents will realize that there is a real danger of death when you send a baby to circumcision.

And then the family comes back… asking for silence. They claim that it was not the circumcision what caused the death. They claim that they are being attacked for their decisions and their beliefs.

What should the community do in those cases?

Accepting that their child died as a consequence of their circumcision means accepting that their child died because of a decision they took. It’s easier to go into denial. In fact, the circumcisers have an interest in keeping the family quiet, so they will likely distort the facts to make it seem as if circumcision was the only chance for the child to survive a pre-existent condition.

In the case of the baby that bled in 2013, the parents later said that bleeding gave them the only chance to fight a bleeding disorder; never mind that their baby didn’t make it.

In fact, in an amazing display of arrogance and irresponsibility, doctor Nisha Jain, M.D., chief of the Clinical Review Branch in FDA’s Office of Blood Research and Review, wrote Patients [of hemophilia] can be diagnosed as infants during circumcision”

In the case of a baby that stopped breathing shortly after a circumcision in Israel in June 2013, the Rabbis claimed a pre-existent condition and said that the circumcision had been performed “flawlessly”.

That same week, a teenage girl died in Egypt after circumcision (FGM) by a medical doctor. A health inspector report said the cause of the death was due to “a sharp drop in blood pressure resulting from shock trauma”. The doctor who performed the female genital mutilation was found guilty, but it is said he is not in jail.

But shock trauma is never considered in the case of baby boys dying after circumcision.

It is likely that hospitals offer some kind of incentive to families of babies dead after circumcisions. Families in turn will keep quiet about what happened. For example, when Jacob Sweet became severely disabled after having an infection and seizures after circumcision, and the hospital “lost” the records, the family offered a reward to anyone coming back with the records. The legal proceedings lasted for years, and the family was finally compensated. The family, that up to that point had even attended genital integrity events, suddenly became silent. When Jacob died, at the age of 26, his circumcision was not even mentioned in the obituary and related news.

But, who benefits from this silence?

The families don’t want to have their story plastered on the news and all over the internet. They want to settle and move on. The doctors don’t want the bad publicity. So, is it a surprise that the AAP didn’t find studies of mortality, only case reports, and thus didn’t provide any numbers on mortality on their policy statement on circumcision of 2012?

The majority of severe or even catastrophic
injuries are so infrequent as
to be reported as case reports (and
were therefore excluded from this
literature review)
- American Academy of Pediatrics
Technical Report on Circumcision 2012

In Canada, a baby, the son of an Iranian couple, died in 2013 after a circumcision that the parents didn’t even want in the first place, but were convinced by a doctor to have it done for medical benefits. The story remained silent for two years, until the family succeeded in seeing the doctors named. So you can see that there is an interest in keeping silence over these cases.

But, who speaks for the child? Who speaks for the one whose voice was never heard?

Genital integrity activists claim that circumcising a minor is a violation of human rights. Many medical communities refuse to accept this and frame circumcision as a parental right. But when a baby dies after his circumcision, can we claim that his rights were violated?

The World Health Organization (WHO) frames female genital mutilation as a violation of human rights, with this paragraph:

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

We disagree that it “reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes” as those societies that practice FGM also practice traditional forms of male circumcision, often resulting in death and mutilation. However, in this moment, we are more interested in the last part of the paragraph:

The practice also violates a person’s rights to [...] life when the procedure results in death

Circumcision apologists claim that every medical procedure has risks. Genital integrity activists remind them that circumcision is not essential to the well-being of the child, and as such is considered an “elective” procedure – and yet the subject is not given the chance to “elect” (or refuse).

So what happens when circumcision results in death?

Who speaks for the baby whose right to life was violated?

How can we stay silent, and wait in silence for the next victim? What good is that?

Sorry families of those babies who died after circumcision. We grieve with you. We feel your pain. But staying silent is the worst form of disrespect for your lost one, and we will speak, if anything with the hope that one family won’t have to go through what you just went.

The secrecy of circumcision mortality

As intactivists protested during the AAP convention 2015 in Washington DC, and less than two months after the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) updated their circumcision policy with a mediocre paper that provides no criteria, while apparently discouraging routine circumcision and promoting it at the same time, we learned of a sad development in Ontario. We learned that a 22-day-old baby called Ryan Heydari bled to death following a circumcision in 2013.

Ryan Heydari

Ryan Heydari

Now, why did it take so long for this story to become public? Details about the complaints against the two physicians made to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, including their identities, would have been kept secret had Ryan’s parents not sought a review by an appeals panel.

“We are so shocked that we will not have an answer to bring us some peace for our broken hearts, to prevent other cruel deaths like Ryan’s and to ensure that doctors take proper care of their patients,” mother Homa Ahmadi told the National Post.

We learned that the parents originally did not want the surgery but were convinced of it by their family physician, who referred them. Dr. Sheldon Wise performed the surgery, and when contacted later over concern that the baby was bleeding too much, advised them to take Ryan to Toronto’s North York General Hospital.

Ryan was eventually transferred to Sick Kids hospital, but died there seven days later. Pathologists said he succumbed to “hypovolemic shock” caused by bleeding from the circumcision, which emptied his body of 35 to 40 per cent of its blood.

Dr. Jordan Carr, the North York General hospital pediatrician who saw Ryan after he started bleeding, was cautioned in writing for “his failure to recognize the seriousness of the patient’s condition and to treat compensated shock.” Carr was also ordered to write a 2- to 4-page report on the possible complications of circumcision and on how to recognize and treat compensated shock.

Wise told the complaints committee he routinely performs circumcisions, and the committee expressed no concerns about his technique or equipment, according to the HPARB decision. But it did feel that he should be obtaining and documenting informed consent before doing the operation.

Ryan’s parents said in a statement: “Our family doctor convinced us though of the health benefits of this procedure, but we had no idea that the loss of Ryan’s life was one of the risks”

Details about the death of this baby are absent from both doctors’ profiles in the College of Physicians and Surgeons’ online registry, as the complaints against the doctors were made before the college changed its policies as to what information it releases to the public.

This same month, less than two weeks ago we learned of another circumcision death, one that was also not disclosed by the media when it happened. We only learned of it incidentally.

Chance Walsh

Chance Walsh

We had been following the news of the missing 9-week old infant in Florida, Chance Walsh, who was found buried in a shallow grave. Details were released of his death, after being beaten by the father, and how he was left to decompose on his crib for several days until the mother complained of the smell, at which point the body was wrapped in plastic bags and moved to the closed, and then taken 13 miles from home and buried on a shallow grave.

But news stories released also that this was not the first baby lost by this couple. On March of 2014 the mother, Bury, gave birth to Duane Jacob Walsh. Duane was found dead 22 days later, and the cause of his dead was ruled to be a kidney infection that resulted from a botched circumcision.

His dead would have remained silent, if it wasn’t because the couple had this other baby, Chance, who died after being severely beaten by the father, a baby that the mother “despised whenever she would look at him because he wasn’t Duane.”

How many more deaths are kept in silence?

The AAP, on their Technical Report on Circumcision of 2012 wrote:

“The majority of severe or even catastrophic injuries are so infrequent as to be reported as case reports (and were therefore excluded from this literature review). These rare complications include glans or penile amputation, 198–206 [...*] and death.213″

An official estimate of mortality by the American Academy of Family Practitioners (AAFP), often cited by other medical organizations, is 1 in 500,000 circumcisions. Thomas Wiswell and Brian Morris, both avid circumcision promoters, introduced a number 20 times smaller. It really doesn’t matter. Deaths happen, and when they happen, they are often ignored. There are no official lists. Parents don’t have access to this information. The AAP Task Force on circumcision can call them case reports, but truth is nobody is trying to keep real numbers, and without real numbers, parents are being deceived. Like Ryan’s parents were.

“we had no idea that the loss of Ryan’s life was one of the risks”

Circumcision promoters often accuse intactivists of exploiting these deaths to further our agenda. But what is our agenda? To try to prevent these tragedies? To promote that all children deserve to grow with intact genitalia? And what is their agenda? To keep making money out of an unnecessary surgery? To continue providing biomedical supplies (amputated foreskins) to the biomedical industry?

Which agenda benefits babies?

Is it fair to these babies to let their names be forgotten, to allow their tragedies to be ignored, and their stories to be repeated over and over?

Let me finish this post by saying:

Rest in peace, Ryan Heydari

Rest in peace, Duane and Chance Walsh

National Post: Ontario newborn bleeds to death after family doctor persuades parents to get him circumcised

The Star: Secrecy questioned about baby’s death after circumcision

Morning Ledger: Body of 9-Week-Old Infant Allegedly Found Dead; Parents Under Custody

Yahoo: Body of 9-Week-Old Was Allegedly Left to Decompose in His Crib Until His Mom Complained About the Smell

 

Baby dies after circumcision – Social networks

We mentioned a while ago that “Activists monitoring social networks often encounter individual cases of complications that usually go unreported“.

A new tragic case will likely be recorded as death caused by ex-sanguination (loss of blood) or systemic failure, while failing to mention that the blood was lost through an intentional wound on the body (circumcision).

The activist who shared the screenshots below, wrote: “On December 14th, 2014, a mother gave birth to her son via emergency c-section. From what I was told the mother and baby were doing fine after the delivery. On December 17th, 2014, the child was circumcised. I do not know the reasoning for the circumcision but I do know they were first time parents. A few hours later the child was pronounced dead. The parents were told the baby suffered massive blood loss but that an autopsy must be performed before the cause of death would be official“.

Rest in peace sweet baby. The names were blacked out by the activist who shared this, in order to protect the privacy of the family.

10846410_739300222814484_8278755529326877739_n
As it always happens, some people gets heated about these senseless tragedies, and some people criticize those who share these kinds of information during times of loss for the families, for what they perceive as bashing the families. But if this information was not shared, how would you know? Would you expect to hear this from the AAP? From the CDC? They won’t tell you.

The AAP in the Technical Report on circumcision, August 27 to 2012, “The majority of severe or even catastrophic injuries are so infrequent as to be reported as case reports (and were therefore excluded from this literature review).” (see page 20 of Technical Report)

It’s not the families’ fault. Yes, they signed a consent form, but quite often they were pressured by doctors, nurses, family, society, they were kept ignorant of the risks, they were told that “the benefits outweigh the risks“, most likely the dads are circumcised, who can think that anything can go wrong during a circumcision?

So sad that lives of babies can be “excluded” for being just “case reports”.

Doug Diekema, Susan Blank, Michael Brady, Ellen Buerk, Waldemar Carlo, Andrew Freeman, Lynne Maxwell, Steven Wegner, this is the truth that you withhold from the American public. Your hands are tainted with babies’ blood. The American public will remember you.

 

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Some Catastrophic Complications of Circumcision Recorded During 2013

This is what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says about catastrophic complications from circumcision, on the 2012 Policy Statement on Circumcision and Technical Report on Circumcision:

The majority of severe or even catastrophic
injuries are so infrequent as
to be reported as case reports (and
were therefore excluded from this
literature review). These rare complications
include glans or penile amputation,
198–206 transmission of herpes
simplex after mouth-to-penis contact
by a mohel (Jewish ritual circumcisers)
after circumcision,207–209 methicillinresistant
Staphylococcus aureus infection,
210 urethral cutaneous fistula,211
glans ischemia,212 and death.213

January 2, 2013. TURKEY: Boy loses penis in circumcision
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?pageID=238&nid=38346&op=sent

February 14, 2013. BELGIUM: Male circumcision tied to less sexual pleasure
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/14/us-health-male-circumcision-idUSBRE91D1CO20130214

February 19, 2013. BRAZIL: Study: mortality of medical circumcision, one death in 7700
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23386015

February 21, 2013. JAKARTA: 3 year old Boy with haemophilia bleeds after circumcision
http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/02/21/toddler-with-hemophilia-bleeds-after-circumcision.html

February 28, 2013. JAKARTA: Mother kills 9 year old son after circumcision shrinks penis
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/indonesian-mum-kills-son-over-penis-size-20130228-2f94r.html#ixzz2MDuQOUQn

March 5, 2013. Queens Infant Disfigured in 2011 Botched Bris, Lawsuit Charges
http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130305/forest-hills/queens-infant-disfigured-botched-bris-lawsuit-charges

March 8, 2013. Baby bleeds after circumcision, suffers seizures and dies two days later. Hospital and family deny that circumcision was the cause.
http://circumstitionsnews.blogspot.com/2013/03/sacramento-another-circumcision-death.html

March 16, 2013. UNITED STATES: More than $80 million paid out for botched circumcisions since 1985
http://www.arclaw.org/resources/settlements

April 6, 2013. NEW YORK. Two Infants Contract Herpes Following Circumcision and Metzitzah b’Peh.
http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/14560/20130406/circumcision-male-circumcision-jewish-ultra-orthodox-herpes-hiv.htm#445eUUYH8QRI6GtZ.99

May 29, 2013. CHICAGO: $1.3 million for botched circumcision, baby had the tip of the glans amputated during his circumcision in 2007
http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/20417085-418/jury-awards-13m-for-newborns-botched-circumcision-attorneys.html

May 29, 2013. MOROCCO. A 3 year old child had part of the glans amputated during a hospital circumcision. This was reported online by the family, with a text in Arabic and a horrific youtube video (which was later deleted). The mother commented in our blog to let us know that a Canadian urologist had already seen the child and recommended long term follow up in case there was stenosis later, which may suggest that they were either able to re-attach or otherwise close the wound without further complications.
http://circwatch.org/boy-3-years-old-suffers-partial-amputation-of-the-glans-during-circumcision-in-morocco/

June 7, 2013. TEL AVIV. Baby Dies in Israeli Hospital following Circumcision. Rabbinate denies any connection with the procedure. Baby stopped breathing minutes after the circumcision.
http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/baby-dies-in-israeli-hospital-following-circumcision/2013/06/07/

June 10, 2013. EGYPT: Girl dies during circumcision at clinic
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/06/10/Egyptian-girl-dies-while-being-circumcised.html

June 17, 2013. SAUDI ARABIA: Doctor who botched 7 circumcisions gets 6 months
http://gulfnews.com/news/region/egypt/egyptian-doctor-convicted-of-botched-surgery-1.1198313

June 20, 2013. SOUTH AFRICA: R2.2M for botched medical circumcision of a child in 2009. He suffered severe burning, infections and a loss of his normal penile tissue after the procedure.
http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/r2-2m-for-boy-s-botched-circumcision-1.1534852

July 7, 2013. CHINA: man loses penis after botched circumcision
http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=125131:ouch-penis-amputated-after-botched-circumcision&Itemid=4#ixzz2YRJLaCh6

July 8, 2013. 20 more die, nearly 300 in hospital in botched circumcisions in Eastern Cape, South Africa
http://www.news.com.au/world-news/circumcision-ritual-kills-30-tribesmen-in-south-africas-eastern-cape/story-fndir2ev-1226675702537

5 men held for about 30 botched circumcision deaths in Eastern Cape, South Africa
http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/5-held-for-botched-circumcision-deaths-20130708

UGANDA: Man loses penis in circumcision botch – July 2013
http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/645118-man-loses-penis-in-medical-circumcision.html

JULY

Boys forcefully circumcised in South Africa, several botched procedures
http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/r3m-claim-for-six-botched-circumcisions-1.1594608#.Umt1WlOhs_c

Surgery on intersex children could be unconstitutional – after sex reassignment of an intersex boy in State custody in S.C. (castration and amputation of penis)
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/federal-court-says-sex-assignment-surgery-on-child-could-violate-us-constitution-r

AUGUST

Two more babies reported to have contracted Herpes after metzitzah b’peh during Jewish circumcision in NYC. August 2013
http://newsok.com/babies-herpes-linked-to-circumcision-practice/article/3875218

More men seeking legal advice after botched infant circumcisions in Australia.
http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/botched-circumcisions-on-the-rise/story-fnhocxo3-1226701536216

4 year old boy dies after hospital circumcision in South Africa. August 2013
http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/child-dies-after-circumcision-at-hospital-1.1563203#.Ug6TD6z2L2w

Nearly 80 boys and young men die after traditional circumcisions in South Africa. August 2013
http://www.africanspotlight.com/2013/07/20/when-circumcision-can-mean-death-in-south-africa/

NOVEMBER

UAE baby has penis partially cut off during circumcision. November 2013
http://www.emirates247.com/news/18-day-old-baby-s-organ-partially-cut-off-during-circumcision-2013-11-14-1.528015

UK Doctor accused of botching circumcision quits NHS – in order to perform circumcisions independently
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24961405

Tennessee baby suffers amputation. August 2013. Reported November of 2013
http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/23912521/mother-upset-over-botched-circumcision#axzz2p4dLMw5W

November 28, 2013. A baby died during a medical circumcision in Afghanistan. The parents wanted to avoid the pain of a later circumcision without anesthesia. The anesthesia was improperly applied and the baby died as a consequence. This was only reported on a facebook post which was later deleted by the family.

DECEMBER

Brooklyn Rabbi botched circumcision of baby with hypospadias. December 2009, reported December 2013.
http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/12/05/63485.htm

Canadian Doctor barred from performing circumcisions after more than 80 botched procedures. Botched procedures recorded since 2010. News reported December 2013
http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Doctor+barred+from+performing+circumcisions+after+dozens+botched+procedures/9323461/story.html

Jewish baby in Pittsburgh has penis cut off during Jewish circumcision. April 2013. Reported December 2013
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2530755/Jewish-Rabbi-sued-accidentally-SEVERING-newborn-baby-boys-penis-Bris-Ceremony.html#ixzz2otJjZ9Ht

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South Africa: 4 year olds child dies after hospital circumcision

Johannesburg – “They killed my child.” These were the pained words of a Germiston father whose son had to be taken off life support on Wednesday evening after he was declared brain dead by two surgeons following a medical circumcision operation a week ago.

Reggie Mokalapa, 39, took his four-year-old son, Gugulethu, to Medicross Germiston for what doctors had assured him would be a “less than two-hour” procedure last Tuesday.

On Sunday, monitors showed that Gugulethu’s brain was not responding, and on Monday he was declared brain dead.

On Wednesday, a second doctor confirmed that Gugulethu was brain dead and the family elected for doctors to take him off life support.

“We are always advised to circumcise our children young, and we did this so that he’d be okay in future. Unfortunately, we took him to a slaughterhouse,” said Mokalapa.
 
 
 
 
Rest in Peace, Gugulethu.
 
Please, let’s stop cutting minors.
 
WHO, PEFPAR, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNAIDS, please stop cutting minors.