Surgeon defends decision to amputate healthy legs of patients
A surgeon in Scotland amputated the legs of two psychologically disturbed men who had nothing physically wrong with them but felt a “desperate” need to be amputees, it emerged this week.
Both men, one from England and one from Germany, had a rare type of body dysmorphic disorder known as apotemnophilia, in which patients are convinced from childhood that they will be normal only once a limb has been removed. The obsession is always with the removal of a specific limb, and each patient had a leg amputated above the knee.
The operations were carried out in September 1997 and April 1999 at an NHS hospital, Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary, by consultant surgeon Robert Smith. Both men had been turned away by other doctors.
The chairman and board members of Forth Valley Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, were unaware of the operations at the time. They