An Australian gynecologist was allowed to continue practicing for years despite complaints dating back at least a decade, reports The Guardian. Emil Shawky Gayed, who practiced in the coastal town of Taree in New South Wales, is accused of performing unnecessary procedures, including hysterectomies and fallopian tube removal, sometimes without patient consent.
As The Guardian puts it, patients “would wake up from surgery in agony and suddenly in menopause, their reproductive organs missing.”
The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), an independent body responsible for responding to medical complaints in New South Wales, began investigating Gayed in 2015. Earlier this month, he was found guilty of professional misconduct and banned from practicing for three years. But The Guardian found evidence that Gayed was “making serious medical errors as far back as 15 years ago.” This calls to mind the recent case of George Tyndall, a gynecologist at the University of Southern California, who was allowed to practice for many years despite repeated allegations of misconduct.
In the wake of the HCCC’s findings, dozens of former patients have come forward with complaints—and their stories are devastating. Several of the accusations against Gayed involve ablation, a procedure in which the lining of the uterus is surgically destroyed, typically as a treatment for endometriosis. Vicki Cheadle, who now refers to Gayed as “that butcher,” is one such patient. The Guardian reports:
After the surgery, [Cheadle] said she was in agony and felt extremely ill. What she did not discover until eight months later was that her uterus was filling with putrid and infected blood, because Gayed had sealed her cervix shut. She needed emergency surgery to treat the infection that had subsequently developed in her uterus, and in the process lost one of her fallopian tubes.
Lyndsay Heaton, who also calls Gayed a “butcher,” went to him for the surgical removal of a vaginal polyp. He reportedly told her that while removing it, he could perform ablation as a means of giving her lighter periods and protecting against pregnancy. “Gayed made the procedure sound quick and easy, so she agreed,” explains The Guardian. But, a few months after the procedure, Heaton, a mother of six, discovered that she was unexpectedly several months pregnant. Gayed had failed to detect the pregnancy before performing the surgery, which involved delivering 100 volts of electricity into her uterus.
Heaton says that Gayed told her that because of the ablation procedure the fetus “wouldn’t be normal,” as she put it, and that she might suffer life-threatening consequences if she continued with the pregnancy. He then paid $2,400 for her to receive an abortion in Sydney. Gayed did not report the payment or his failure to detect the pregnancy to Manning Rural Referral, the hospital where he worked.
In an especially tragic case, “one woman died after he failed to tell her she had hyperplasia, a condition of the uterus that can indicate cancer,” reports The Guardian. “He also failed to refer her to a cancer specialist.” He then performed ablation on her, which is counter to medical advice in such a case because it can trigger cancerous growth: “By the time the woman came in to the hospital emergency department in February with heavy vaginal bleeding, five years had passed and her cancer was advanced. The doctors could not save her.”
The case triggered an investigation by Manning Rural Referral, which found “nine other women he had treated with ablation despite the presence of hyperplasia” and showed that Gayed performed the procedure almost 60 percent more frequently than his colleagues.
The Guardian also spoke with Christy Smith, who had Gayed stitch tears in her vagina after she gave birth. When she went for a routine pap smear months later with another doctor, Smith was told that Gayed “had stitched my vagina almost shut,” she said. Smith saw a specialist to fix the stitching, but says, “I still feel mutilated.” Other allegations include “that he unnecessarily removed another woman’s healthy right ovary after she miscarried, and performed a hysterectomy on another woman without her consent.”
These are just of few examples of the dozens of former patients that have come forward with complaints against him. Now these patients are wondering how, exactly, Gayed was allowed to continue practicing for so long. Last week, the HCCC launched a second investigation “examining the hospital management and staff who may have known about Gayed and the horrific infections, injuries and trauma he was leaving in his wake, but failed to report him.”