Mother tells of `botched operation'

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The Independent Online
A WOMAN spoke yesterday of her shock and devastation when she discovered that her ovaries had been removed without her permission during a hysterectomy.

The patient, aged 54, said the operation left her with bleeding and a leaking bowel for weeks afterwards. It was carried out by Rodney Ledward, a gynaecologist, at St Saviour's private hospital in Hythe, Kent,

Identified only as Patient Four, she told a General Medical Council disciplinary hearing against Mr Ledward that five weeks before the operation in November 1992 she was told her ovaries were "perfectly healthy". But from a conversation with the doctor after Christmas that year, "it dawned on me the way he was talking everything had been removed", she said

Asked if she had contemplated or agreed to the removal of the ovaries, she said: "No, not at all."

The hearing was told that Mr Ledward, 58, who is accused of "serious professional misconduct" over alleged blunders involving 14 women, performed the hysterectomy so badly that two litres of blood had to be removed from Patient Four's stomach and abdomen.

The woman, who has four children, said she remembered coming round from the operation "quite alarmed" to find a doctor pumping blood from her stomach.

The complications of the operation cleared up after nine days in hospital, Patient Four said, and she went home. But after a few days she discovered she was leaking urine in a constant trickle, and was readmitted to hospital.

It emerged that during the operation Mr Ledward had damaged her ureter - the tube leading from the kidneys to the bladder.

"I was very, very distressed going back into hospital," she said. "I didn't know what was happening. I was told I had to come in for kidney failure, which was very frightening."

Mr Ledward, of Folkestone, Kent, denies 14 counts of misconduct. He was suspended from his post with South Kent Hospital's NHS Trust on 6 February 1996, after a complaint from a patient. Last December, after an independent review, he was sacked for misconduct .

Robert Seabrook QC, for Mr Ledward, told Patient Four that the gynaecologist had "great sympathy" for the problems she encountered and pointed out she had had a good relationship with him in the past, which she acknowledged.

Asked by Mr Seabrook whether she would have trusted his client's judgement in advising her that her ovaries should be removed, to prevent complications before the onset of the menopause, she said: "I would have considered it, but I never had that conversation."

Patient Four consulted a solicitor six months after the operation. Her claim for damages was settled in 1995.

Mr Ledward has 33 years of professional experience and is a published authority on drug treatment in gynaecology and obstetrics.

Fourteen women are alleged to have suffered because of his incompetence while he was working at the William Harvey NHS Hospital, Ashford, Kent, and St Saviour's between 1989 and 1996. It is also claimed that he tried to persuade NHS patients to opt for private care for his personal gain.

The hearing is expected to last another seven days.