Courthouse News Service
November 9, 2012
Circumcision Goes Horribly Wrong
EDINBURG, Texas (CN) - A doctor botched a circumcision of a 4-year-old boy so badly that the boy pleaded to "just cut it off and (he) can be a girl," the parents claim in court.
Rafael and Vanessa Deleon sued Dr. Jennifer J. Garza, of McAllen, in Hidalgo County Court. They claim they learned from specialists that Garza over-cauterized the penis to try to stop the bleeding, damaging their son's urethra and requiring reconstructive surgery to close the holes.
But after the 90-minute surgery, the Deleons claim Garza told them, "'the circumcision was successful.' She also told them that 'there was a little bleeding, but that she and her staff were able to stop it,'" according to the complaint.
Then a nurse appeared and told Garza that the boy "still had a lot of bleeding and that the bleeding did not appear to be stopping," the complaint states. Garza told that that "their son 'needed to go back into surgery in order to find out what was happening and to stop the bleeding,'" the Deleons say. They were then given a consent form, but "the consent papers were for a different patient," according to the complaint.
It continues: "After taking the plaintiff into the operating room for a second time, the defendant came out and told Ethan's parents that she had managed to stop the bleeding using cauterization around the penis area where she thought the bleeding was coming from. The defendant then had the plaintiff remain overnight at the hospital. During the course of that night, hospital staff had to change the plaintiff's gauze around his penis multiple times. Plaintiff's parents also noticed that the plaintiff oozed blood every time he urinated."
The next day, after seeing lab results, Garza told them that "'Ethan's penis was going to look beat up for the next couple of weeks, but that as the weeks go by it would look normal again,'" according to the complaint.
But that didn't happen, the family says: "The days following the surgery, the plaintiff's parents had to change the plaintiff's gauze repeatedly because he kept bleeding so much. During this time, the plaintiff's parents were shocked when they saw the plaintiff urinate from more than one hole in his penis. It appeared that Ethan had two streams of urine. After seeing this, the plaintiff's family decided to visit Doctor Segundo Lizardo, Ethan's pediatrician, the same doctor who referred them to Dr. Garza."
The only defendant in the complaint is Dr. Garza and her office.
The family consulted a third doctor, Catarina Posada, who "could not explain to the family why the plaintiff was urinating from two holes in his penis, but she however prescribed the plaintiff some medication," according to the complaint.
It continues: "In the coming days, the plaintiff screams and cries every time he has to urinate. The plaintiff is also in tremendous pain. The plaintiff refuses to drink anything because he does not want to urinate. The plaintiff also becomes very upset with his parents. He begins to blame them for his pain and predicament. The plaintiff goes so far as to say that he is a girl now because he has to urinate sitting down. The plaintiff also asks his parents 'to just cut it off, and he can be a girl.' The plaintiff's parents also have to change the plaintiff's sheets nightly because the sheets become stained with blood."
A week after the circumcision, the Deleons took their son, still bleeding and in pain, to the emergency room at Rio Grande Regional Hospital where Dr. Christopher Bristow told them "that the plaintiff's penis looked over cauterized."
That led to a visit with a pediatric urologist, and more lab tests.
Dr. Lizardo then prescribed him morphine so he could sleep, the family says.
"On or about April 3, 2011, at 2:30 a.m., the plaintiff went to urinate and his parents noticed that a stream of blood was running down his leg. The plaintiff's parents call 911. The ambulance takes the plaintiff to the Knapp Medical Center Emergency room. There Dr. Jorge Martinez sees the plaintiff and gets Dr. Lizardo to show up to the emergency room. According to the plaintiff's parents, when they questioned Dr. Lizardo on why this was happening to their son, Dr. Lizardo told them something had to have gone wrong during the circumcision surgery for this to be happening to Ethan," the complaint states.
Five days later, a pediatric urologist told them "that Ethan's urethra is damaged. He tells the plaintiff's family that the circumcision surgery created fistulas - holes in Ethan's penis. He tells them that the plaintiff will need reconstructive surgery to repair the fistulas," the complaint states.
"On or about September 23, 2011, the plaintiff underwent reconstructive surgery to close the fistulas (holes) on his penis. The doctor tells the plaintiff's family that he closed the holes; however sadly, he indicated that the plaintiff may need more surgeries in the future," the complaint says. (Parentheses in complaint.)
The family seeks punitive damages for medical negligence, deceptive trade, breach of warranty and misrepresentation.
They are represented by Pamela S. Alexander and Efrain Molina Jr. of Edinburg.