Sad News: Canadian Baby Dies from Circumcision After Parents Reluctantly Agreed to Procedure
Ontario Newborn Bleeds to Death after Family Doctor Persuades Parents to Get Him Circumcised
Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015
National Post (Canada)
TORONTO — An Ontario doctor has been cautioned after a 22-day-old baby bled to death from a circumcision gone horribly wrong, underscoring the heated debate over a simple yet contentious procedure.
Another physician involved in the case was urged by a medical governing body to be “mindful” of the operation’s dangers.
But Ryan Heydari’s parents say the regulators who handled their complaints have shed little light on what led to Ryan’s death – or how to prevent similar tragedies in future.
They say they did not even want the newborn circumcised — a view in line with longstanding recommendations from the Canadian Pediatric Society — but were persuaded to do so by a family physician.
“We are so shocked that we will not have an answer to bring us some peace for our broken hearts, to prevent other cruel deaths like Ryan’s and to ensure that doctors take proper care of their patients,” mother Homa Ahmadi told the National Post.
In fact, the case only became public because the couple appealed the original Ontario College of Physician and Surgeons rulings, which were rendered in secret.
An appeal tribunal upheld this month a decision by the College to caution the on-call pediatrician who saw Ryan in the emergency department hours after his circumcision, his diaper stained red with blood.
The Health Professions Appeal and Review Board also confirmed the college’s separate advice to the pediatrician who conducted the procedure to be aware of its potential hazards, and document his efforts to get informed consent.
"We are so shocked that we will not have an answer to bring us some peace for our broken hearts, to prevent other cruel deaths like Ryan’s and to ensure that doctors take proper care of their patients,” mother Homa Ahmadi told the National Post.
The pediatric society said in a recent report that death from bleeding caused by circumcision is “extremely rare,” though it’s not completely unheard of. A five-week-old B.C. baby bled to death after being circumcised in 2003.
Ahmadi gave birth on Jan. 3, 2013 to a boy who loved attention, cried relatively little and seemed to actually smile. “He gave us the most amazing moments of our life,” says Ryan’s mother.
She and husband John Heydari, who immigrated from Iran about 12 years ago, opposed having him circumcised, convinced that “mother nature created us the way she intended us to be.”
But their family physician persuaded them it was a good idea for medical reasons, despite contrary advice from pediatric specialists.
Once carried out on most Canadian boys and still common as a religious rite for Jews and Muslims, circumcision has generally fallen in popularity, rates hovering around 32 per cent.
The pediatric society has long held that its risks – including pain to a small baby, bleeding and the chance of disfigurement of the penis – outweigh its benefits.
The group revisited the issue with a report just last month that addressed growing evidence circumcision helps prevent sexually transmitted disease, acting almost like a vaccine in countries with high rates of HIV.
Circumcised boys are also less likely to suffer urinary-tract infections and to develop rare penile cancer later in life, the society says.
But its report still recommended against routine circumcision of every newborn male, saying that it may make sense in certain cases. For those who have the procedure, “close follow-up in the early post-circumcision time period is critical,” the society warns.
One urologist says he has encountered a few cases where circumcised babies had to undergo transfusions because of dangerous bleeding, and sees less-serious complications routinely.
Dr. Jorge DeMaria of Hamilton’s McMaster University believes regulators should require doctors to prove they have undergone proper training before doing circumcisions. He also questions circumcising newborns for preventive-health reasons, in a country with low levels of HIV and wide availability of condoms.
It was so obvious from the blood his tiny body had lost that he was in danger
“In our setting, in North America, really it’s not necessary.”
Ahmadi says she and her husband knew almost immediately after their son’s procedure that something was seriously wrong.
The previously unfussy baby “was crying so much, so hard, and he wouldn’t stop,” she recalled in written answers to questions. “He was bleeding, and it only got worse over just hours … It was so obvious from the blood his tiny body had lost that he was in danger.”
The pediatrician who did the circumcision told the College he conducts many of them, that Ryan’s was uneventful and there was no bleeding when he checked the dressing before the family left.
The parents called about bleeding later that day, though, and he advised them to take Ryan to Toronto’s North York General Hospital, which they did.
“We … waited for care that could have saved his life, but that level of care never came,” says Ahmadi.
A sparse outline in the board’s decision says Ryan was eventually transferred to Sick Kids hospital, but died there seven days later. Pathologists said he succumbed to “hypovolemic shock” caused by bleeding from the circumcision, which emptied his body of 35 to 40 per cent of its blood.
The doctor at North York General — whose name has been withheld according to College policy — was cautioned for failing to recognize the seriousness of the boy’s condition or treating “compensated shock” – the first stage of the condition.
But the process left the family little further ahead in fathoming how Ryan could have died, said Brian Moher, their lawyer.
“My clients felt that there was a big gap in what the College had done with the investigations, essentially missing the point around the infant’s death.”
The devastated parents, meanwhile, have not had other children.
“The loss of Ryan, our only child, has made us realize that we can’t possess anything, even our hopes and dreams,” Ahmadi says. “We hope that this never happens to any other baby.”I felt my stomach surge. This couldn't be true. But it is.
Three week-old Ryan Hedari bled to death from the circumcision surgery his parents didn't want him to have.
His parents resisted, because they believed, “mother nature created us the way she intended us to be." But the b.s. about the "benefits" of circumcision was sold to his parents by the doctor who was accountable for the baby's wellbeing.