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Newsnight Scotland's Simon Willis reports
"This is the second time Mr Furth has tried and failed to have his leg removed by a surgeon in Scotland"
 real 56k

Friday, 25 August, 2000, 05:37 GMT 06:37 UK
'Healthy' amputation rejected
Hospital ward
Two men's limbs were amputated at a Falkirk hospital
A Scottish hospital has refused to let a surgeon amputate a patient's healthy leg - because the operation could damage its reputation.

It emerged this week that Robert Smith had applied for permission to carry out the controversial procedure at Abbey King's Park Hospital in Stirling.

The surgeon was banned from performing similar operations at Falkirk Royal Infirmary after it was discovered that he had amputated healthy limbs from two private patients there.

The two men suffered from body dysmorphic disorder, which makes patients want their limbs removed.

Gregg Furth
Gregg Furth wants his leg amputated
Now the private Stirling hospital has rejected Mr Smith's application for permission to amputate the leg of American Gregg Furth.

In a letter to Mr Smith, managing director Eric Hemming said the hospital would have preferred more time to reach its conclusion.

But it had decided to call a halt because the amount of public interest had made it a major distraction.

However, hospital management say the time is right for more research into the psychological condition.

Mr Furth told BBC Newsnight Scotland that he was "disappointed" by the decision.

Robert Smith
Robert Smith performed two operations
"This wasn't about me having this surgery, it was about the syndrome and having that open and available for individuals who suffer from the syndrome," he said.

Mr Furth said he had had "great hopes" the operation would be performed in Scotland.

"Scotland did go ahead and was progressive and tried a few surgeries that have been highly successful," he said

"Maybe in the future, if more research is there, they will consider it again - but perhaps it will be considered in another country."

Mr Furth says he is suffering from a little known disorder called apotemnophilia - and plans to write a book with Mr Smith about the condition.

Second attempt

He has felt his right leg was not part of his body since he was a child.

He says it is neither a sexual fetish, as some people believe, nor a mental illness.

This is the second time that he has failed in an attempt to have the operation in Scotland.

And it is the third time that the hospital has refused a similar request from Mr Smith.

In his letter, Mr Hemming says more research is needed into the area of body dysmorphic disorder.

"Many of us who have spent time studying the circumstances surrounding BDD may have begun to question our initial disbelief and abhorrence, but we still remain very uncertain," he writes.

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See also:

23 Aug 00 | Scotland
Body disorder book plans
31 Jan 00 | Scotland
Surgeon defends amputations
31 Jan 00 | Medical notes
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
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