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Monday, November 23, 1998 Published at 18:10 GMT


Health

'Mutilated' man sues for £3m



A British Airways pilot who was "grossly genitally mutilated" during an operation is suing his surgeon for £3m, the High Court has heard.

James Williams, 42, was reportedly in danger of losing his penis after the operation at the Lister Hospital in London in December 1994.

Presenting the case against consultant surgeon John Pryor, counsel Nicholas Leviseur said his client had been left "physically and mentally destroyed" by the experience.

Mr Williams contends that Mr Pryor was negligent and had failed to warn him of the dangers of the operation.

'Variable moods'

Mr Williams was 38 years old, married with children and earning £65,000 a year as a first officer with British Airways at the time of the operation.

He is now unable to fly, reducing his earning potential to £12,500-a-year, his marriage has broken down, he has lost his home - a farm in north Devon - and has become reliant on friends and relatives who could tolerate his "variable moods", Mr Leviseur said.

The operation on 10 December 1994 was intended to reverse a circumcision by grafting skin from Mr Williams' scrotum onto his penis.

But Mr Leviseur contends that skin was actually grafted from the thigh and his client was discharged from the hospital on Christmas Eve by Mr Pryor who did not realise that the operation had gone "tragically wrong".

'Gangrenous material'

"He didn't even use his own operative technique and after that very unfortunately did not recognise ... that necrosis had set in," Mr Leviseur said.

Mr Williams then boarded a train to Exeter where a guard - "who is the only hero of the case" - called an ambulance to meet him.

Doctors reportedly recognised that Mr Williams could lose his penis and emergency grafts were made after surgeons removed "gangrenous material".

A total of five operations over two years were required to restore the former pilot's penis to "something approaching a respectable state", Mr Leviseur said.

He produced photographs as evidence.

Licence withdrawn

Mr Leviseur described his client as a dynamic man who had been extremely successful in whatever he turned his hand to, which included teaching himself to fly passenger aircraft.

"This man would have carried on flying for as long as possible, certainly until he was 60 or thereafter," he said.

"In his own words he had everything he wanted and he now has nothing that he wants."

British Airways withdrew Mr William's flying licence over concerns about his psychological well-being. He has been kept on by the airline in a role at the Civil Aviation Authority.

The case continues.



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