Patel faces life in jail

The manslaughter convictions of former surgeon Jayant Patel in Brisbane have drawn a mix of celebration and outrage in the US.


The Brisbane jury found Patel guilty of the manslaughter of three patients at a Bundaberg hospital where he served as chief of surgery.

Mervyn Morris, Gerardus Kemps and James Phillips all died in Patel’s care – and Ian Vowles suffered grievous bodily harm.

In Patel’s home state of Oregon, the daughters of one of Patel’s American patients were ecstatic about the guilty verdicts.

Marie Mesecher died after an operation in a Portland, Oregon, hospital in 1997.

“He doesn’t think he is doing wrong,” Mrs Mesecher’s daughter, Denise Harding, told AAP.

Mrs Mesecher, 73, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, died after Dr Patel performed surgery on her at Portland’s Providence St Vincent hospital to remove a tumour.

“When we looked at her medical files, evidently what he did was rip a piece out, instead of cutting,” Ms Harding said.

“When he ripped that he ripped a main artery to Mum’s kidneys.

“He couldn’t get her stabilised. She wouldn’t stop bleeding.”

A Portland newspaper hired Dr Norman Bolton, the former chief of surgery at Sinai Hospital in Detroit and chairman of the Michigan Board of Medicine, to review medical records of Patel’s Oregon patients, including Mrs Mesecher.

“This is very complicated surgery, but he (Patel) did a really rotten job,” Dr Bolton concluded after examining Mrs Mesecher’s records.

Harding and her sister, Sandrah Ickert, had planned to pursue a civil lawsuit against Patel and hoped US authorities would charge him, but by the time they obtained their mother’s medical records Patel was in Australia working as director of surgery at Queensland’s Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005.

Depending on the sentence, the sisters will look at launching a US civil suit and encouraging American law enforcement to seek charges against Patel when he is returned to the US.

“What really irritates me is if Portland put a stop to this, he wouldn’t have killed more in Australia,” Mrs Harding said.

Mrs Harding’s father, Bill Mesecher, heartbroken by his wife’s premature death, lived until March this year.

One of Patel’s staunchest US supporters, Dr Vijay Mehta, a former chief of general thoracic and vascular surgery in Texas, was disappointed with the Queensland jury’s guilty verdicts.

Dr Mehta believes the jury pool was tainted by the Australian media’s blanket coverage of the case and use of the “Dr Death” nickname

“The damage was done before he ever entered Australia,” Dr Mehta said.

“There was a constant barrage of ‘Dr Death, Dr Death, Dr Death’.

“The media called him Dr Death for five years.

“I don’t think people could erase that from their heads.”


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