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Dec-30-2009 02:29printcomments

Circumcision by an Intern

That's a Real Owee! Circumcision from a doctor's point of view.


(MOLALLA, Ore.) - For many years I wondered about this Biblical/archaic procedure. I was intact when my older brother had it done when he was in the Navy along with a hernia repair.

I think my younger brother had it done as a standard operating procedure(SOP). I really didn't get close to it myself until my medical internship.

I don't know about M.D. internships. I am a doctor of osteopathy, D.O. I'm sure we do things differently. It must be working well because about 12 D.O. schools have sprung up in the last 20 years.

Anyhow, we D.O.'s go through rotations of all general practice subjects including OB-GYN and pediatrics where we better pay attention with newborn boys.

I remember my fearless leader/doctor performing a couple of these procedures one particular day. I was told by the maternity nurse that the doctor/teacher said I should do a circumcision on his newest boy child patient.

There is/was an instrument known as a GOMCO CLAMP which we used. I don't believe any doctor uses a scalpel on such a small organ.

Last week I saw a TV news program about a doctor using an electric cautery. Unfortunately it was set on high rather than low and it fried the young man's organ. I even squirm thinking about that. The nurse did tell me to be very careful or some young man in about twenty years would be looking for me with fire in his eyes and soul.

With that admonition in mind, I found my young patient and the GOMCO and proceeded to put it on him. - O.K. so far.

Once it was carefully and correctly in place, I started turning the clamp handle. I had been told that newborns didn't feel pain which I scarcely believed, when all of a sudden came screams which loosened the paint on the wall.

What an eye-opening, eardrum damaging event. I had heard and seen battle injured soldiers before but this screaming raised the hair on my neck.

There were five of us interns and I very cautiously inquired, "what is this circ business all about"?

Interns are on salary. So, our teachers endeavor to get as much 'free doctoring' out of us as they can. However, the doctors are on a fee for service and they get paid for what the interns do for them. Back then it was $50 OR $100. iF THE INTERNS says he is too busy, he can get out of some of this.

For the future I was always too busy. Yes I can do a circ but I don't want some 20-year old guy looking for me with fire in his eyes.

The current postings on this on and especially the email comments have been excellent. I'm inclined to go along with the advocates of Intelligent Design. Every animal I know about has a foreskin or equivalent.



Dr. Phillip Leveque has degrees in chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and minors in physiology and biochemistry. He was a Professor of Pharmacology, employed by the University of London for 2 years, during which time he trained the first doctors in Tanzania. After training doctors, he became an Osteopathic Physician, as well as a Forensic Toxicologist.

Before any of that, Phil Leveque was a Combat Infantryman in the U.S. Army in WWII. He suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 60 years after the war, and specialized in treating Veterans with PTSD during his years as a doctor in Molalla, Oregon. Do you have a question, comment or story to share with Dr. Leveque?
Email him:
More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole". Order the book by mail by following this link: DOGFACE SOLDIER OF WWII If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.

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Robert March 8, 2010 7:19 am (Pacific time)

My name is Rob, I am 27. My mother and father mutilated my body by circumcising me. I don't know what they were thinking but I think that didn't think much. I must endure the pain, loss and betrayal of what they did to me. If they believed they helping me by removing a body part that they believed to be dirty, I only perceive that to be irresponsible. Washing with soap and water works good.
My mother's answer to my asking her why I was circumcised was, with sarcasm "What was I supposed to do, ask you". So my answer to her was "yes!, you do ask me. When I'm old enough to answer. My father's answer was that he wanted to which. I am left with two large scars on my penis and a mutilated urethra. Because the skin of my urethra has been cut I don't have the ability to urinate in a straight line. Make this mutilation stop!

Lawn Griffiths January 29, 2010 9:25 pm (Pacific time)

The intactivist movement needs to borrow and replicate the "best practices" of successful activists in other causes -- including shaming the perpetrators (circumcisers and hospitals), spending money wisely in well-positioned ads, writing letters and emails furiously and convincingly and talking to expectant families and any others who will listen. Emphasizing the right of each human to self-determination of his own body seems basic and important. Women seem more empathetic. We have not awakened the anger and resentment in cut men well enough yet. Lawsuits and, alas, a well-publicized tragedy may have to happen. We need a celebrity to champion this, someone with the courage to not feel that it would harm career. It is getting weirder with these companies producing newer gadgets "guaranteed" to mutilate evenly and without skin tags. A better guillotine.

Sam January 19, 2010 12:15 pm (Pacific time)

While I agree that circumcision is wrong...we are only fooling ourselves if all were willing to do is post our anti-circumcision comments here. We need to contact our representatives in the government and let them know, that we will no longer tolerate circumcision on male infants. If you have any doubts as to the seriousness of this issue...please read the article on: Debate on circumcision heightened as CDC evaluates surgery. In addition, you can cast your vote in the papers poll on whether boys should be circumcised. It's up to us(men and women) to let it be known, that we will no longer accept this cruel and unnecessary procedure performed on male babies.

Dr Too January 18, 2010 2:44 pm (Pacific time)

Hmmm… In the U.S. some women have trouble getting their baby boys to take the nipple and breast feed. A consequence of the breach of trust when the mother allows someone to inflict the first sexual abuse on this newborn son?

In the U.S. men have among the lowest incidence of using preventive health care on Earth: seeing the doctor. Might this be due to a deep-seated fear rooted in that first experience of medical ‘care?’

In the U.S. premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction are almost ubiquitous in older men. Maybe there is some causal effect from circumcision. And painful intercourse… well, who knows?

Bottom line: circumcision provides not benefit for 99.4% of baby boys in the U.S. and the practice should be stopped. Interestingly, the world outside the U.S. is aghast at our male genital mutilation rate, while the U.S. has a Federal Law protecting girls from one and the same.

Sigismond January 5, 2010 8:41 am (Pacific time)

Sexual mutilation of both sex minors is crime against humanity.

Dr. Leveque January 4, 2010 12:22 pm (Pacific time)

To Voice of Victim Dec 31 2009: You posted that you found me, I think that is only figuratively but how did you find me? Dr. A. got paid for my services. If I killed somebody All Drs would protect me! Sorry about the Circumcision if it was me.

Marilyn Milos, RN January 2, 2010 8:33 am (Pacific time)

I appreciate the Voice of the Victim! Bless you for forgiving the man who knew not what he was doing. Your screams let him know and, because of the trauma the doc inflicted upon you, other boys were spared. I agree that he should have, and I wish the doc had, apologized to you. But, his article and his commitment not to participate in circumcision are certainly an acknowledgment of what he understood to be wrong. As more an more victims of circumcision--both the awakened perpetrators and the survivors--speak out, we get closer to our goal of bringing this anachronistic blood ritual to an end. Thank you to all of you who have the courage to voice your opposition and to defend the rights of the child!

Michael Anderson January 2, 2010 12:11 am (Pacific time)

Please Please stop this procedure for baby boys. I am now in my 50's and feel nothing during sex. In fact I have no interest because I feel nothing! Why was I not allowed to keep the many, many nerve endings removed during my foreskin amputation. The AMA should pay for my Cialis! Why can't the US government equalize the FGM and MGM.

gp January 1, 2010 9:48 am (Pacific time)

providence portland, the big hospital once fired a wonderful nurse because she refused to participate in circumcision, the head nurse said she must or be fired, she chose not to participate in child abuse.

Mark January 1, 2010 1:26 am (Pacific time)

Circumcision is genital mutilation whether it is performed on males or females. It is also a form of child abuse which robs the victim of his right to an intact body. Doctors who do this are violating their own hippocratic oath to "do no harm."

VoiceOfTheVictim December 31, 2009 11:14 am (Pacific time)

I'm the man Dr. Leveque circumcised. I forgive him, but I do wish he had at least apologized to me. Please don't forget about me! I did all I could, even taking the paint off! There should be no statute of limitations to circumcision sexual abuse. If this doctor had said he killed someone when he was an intern, he would be put in jail for it. The same should be done for circumcision, or it will never end.

Michael Morin December 31, 2009 10:23 am (Pacific time)

Circumcision is a savage ritual that has been medicalized. It is equivalent to sacrificing your newborn baby boy body to some mystical power for your own protection. If you do this to the one's you love you've failed in your #1 duty as a parent: protect your children from harm. If you do this to your patients, you've failed in your #1 duty as a doctor: DO NO HARM.

Lawn Griffiths December 31, 2009 7:39 am (Pacific time)

I always wonder where are the basic human instincts to not want to harm others. My instincts as a father 35 years ago to not impose such intrusive cutting of my newborn son were clear. Through the years, I have been heartened by our decision and have come to conclude that circumcision is a sick, culturally entrenched practice that only survives because "respected" doctors do it. In short, circumcision is de facto sexual assault on the innocent. Parents need to wake up and become informed. The foreskin is there for a lot of reasons.

Lacey Hubbard December 30, 2009 9:05 pm (Pacific time)

Ahhhhh circumcision!!! As shocking as it is to me, it's quite controversial and has strong supporters on both sides. I don't know what frightens me more - the thought of a Gomco clamp coming toward my baby or a brand new intern being the one doing it. I'm a newborn nursery nurse, pregnant with my first son, and I've decided not to put my son through the circumcision procedure. I've just seen it too many times to know it is indeed painful and not a medical necessity. I've also worked with several D.O.'s. They seem very compassionate and just as educated, sometimes more so, than our M.D.'s. My sister's OB is a D.O. and she says she rocks!

Restoring Tally December 30, 2009 3:36 pm (Pacific time)

Wow! I wish more doctors felt that way! I was circumcised at birth. This happened many years ago, well before the Internet. I never really know what circumcision did to me until I was in my 50s. Although I never had the fire in my eyes, I sure would like to have a word or two with the doctor that cut me! Particularly now that I have started restoring my foreskin and have a very good idea of what I lost.

RogerE December 30, 2009 9:47 am (Pacific time)

"I'm inclined to go along with the advocates of Intelligent Design."
Huh? I've never seen anything from "advocates of Intelligent Design" that expressed an opinion one way or the other. As far as I can tell, they are just as likely, if not more so because of their religious tendencies, to advocate circumcision as the general population.

Jeff K- December 30, 2009 8:47 am (Pacific time)

That baby's face has the perfect expression for consideration of this topic - too bad they don't have any choice or say in the matter...I'm sure most would adamantly refuse this "routine" painful procedure which leaves the victim permanently scarred and possibly emotionally traumatized by this violation of their most sensitive body part.

Frank OHara December 30, 2009 8:44 am (Pacific time)

Yes, infant circumcision is incredibly painful for the child even if the best pain management techniques are used. Two studies in the 1990's confirmed this with one being ended less than half way through on "humanitarian grounds." I certainly hope the report of the electrocautery device was a long time ago. In 1986, two boys lost their penises due to just the conditions you describe. They were at Atlanta's Northside Hospital. Apparently, there was a problem with the device used for circumcisions and another was brought up from the surgical suite. The doctor didn't notice the setting was on "high" and burned the boy's penis off. In the turmoil, no one removed the machine from the circumcison ante room and the shift ended. The next doctor came in and burned the next child's penis off. One of these boys underwent sex reassignment surgery and it was never made public what happened to the other. The device manufacturer settled the lawsuit for $22.8 million. These two accidents were widely reported in the media. Rational and logical thought would lead one to assume the circumcision rate would decline drastically after the accidents but instead, the circumcision rate actually increased. The circumcision rate did decrease for caucasian boys but increased drastically for African American boys. The implication was clear. The hospital went on a campaign to sell circumcision to protect the cash cow and did so by taking advantage of those least informed and unaware of the accidents. I might also add that there were few African American boys born at Northside as it is in Atlanta's prosperous northside and there were few African Americans living in that area at the time. There were few if any African American boys who escaped in this quest for profits at Northside. .

James Loewen December 30, 2009 8:21 am (Pacific time)

Thanks for this insightful look behind the scenes of a circumcision. I've heard many accounts of circumcisions of infants done by interns. Men have to live with the results of this unwarranted surgery for the rest of their lives. Indeed the boy in the story you related, (David Reimer) whose penis was completely burned off during a "routine circumcision" took a shotgun and did confront the "doctor" (Jean Marie Huot) who did that to him. Unfortunately David Reimer broke down before he could blast that "doctor's" head off. I'm very glad the outcome of your experience with doing a circumcision resulted in you speaking out against it. Thanks for sharing this story. Every child deserves to have their human rights respected.

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