Monday, November 16, 2015

The Rest Of The Story...


I've been wondering what happened to those conjoined twins whose brains Ben Carson separated, the doing of which propelled him to "gifted hands" fame. And now I know.
... But according to news media accounts two years after the surgery, one boy was discharged from the hospital with signs of severe neurological damage and remained in a vegetative state; the other was developmentally delayed.  
...
The twins’ mother, Theresia Vosseler, described in a subsequent interview with a German magazine being racked with guilt for seeking the separation surgery that left her sons so impaired she had to send them to live in an institution. 
In 1993, Vosseler told Freizeit Revue that she flew to Baltimore with “a healthy, happily babbling baby bundle and came back to Ravensburg with two lifeless, soundless, mentally and physically most severely damaged human bundles.” 
“I will never get over this,” said a bitter Vosseler. “Why did I have them separated? I will always feel guilty. . . I don’t believe in a good God anymore.” ...
Yes, the emphasis at the end is mine. Pretty profound: this "miracle" on which Carson has based his claims of his own glorification by God, by which he sees God as working through him, ended in disaster for the babies and faithlessness for their mother.

The article details several other procedures and outcomes and repeated assurances by Carson that God guides his hands. The same God that created the problems in the first place guides Carson's hands. And leads, in virtually all cases, to what most people would consider disastrous outcomes; and, in some cases, ethically questionable decisions to have proceeded at all.

What a guy, that God. Double whammy: conjoins the twins, sends Carson to make them worse. One must conclude that God was more interested in working the grift along with Carson, than in the lives of the kids he created. Maybe gets a cut of the royalties. How else to explain it?

Well, far be it from me to make this about God. The point, I think, is that it's yet another example of Ben Carson's self-delusion, of his certainty that he's God's chosen one, the belief in which justifies whatever he says, no matter how outrageous, no matter how devoid of understanding. And, in his professional career, despite the damaged children he left in his wake. It takes a special kind of mind to think that way.

[Image source

6 comments:

Professor Chaos said...

That must be why he suddenly retired so young. The hospital was probably afraid of the lawsuits and pushed him out,

Smoothtooperate said...

The dude looks and acts as if he's on something.

Anonymous said...

Really? You are a surgeon, you of all people should understand this guy was pushing the limits of medical technology at the time. Even with tested operations outcomes are never a guarantee. This is no different then the first people to undergo transplantation, cardiac bypass, HIPEC etc. Its interesting to hear the rest of the story, but when he designed that operation there had been no successful separation of twins conjoined at the head, ever. I think it's amazing they survived at all. The mom expecting two completely normal kids as a result was not a realistic expectation, and in my opinion the complications you cited in no way diminish the accomplishment.

Sid Schwab said...

Thanks for your opinion, anonymous. If you read the referenced article you'll know that as he continued to do it, there were virtually no outcomes that were satisfactory. I agree that that's the way with pioneering work; I was heavily involved in the early days of kidney transplant, and it took too long to realize that it was more important to save the patient than the kidney. You could read about it in my book, if you're interested. Colleagues of his have raised questions about his judgement in doing the operations: mechanical skills are not what make great surgeons: it's judgement. I have no basis for opining on him other than what I've read. In general, though, people who think they're doing God's work tend to assume the mantle of invincibility. Like, you know, invading Iraq, or running for president.

The other point of this post was important, too: Carson sees himself as God's gift to humanity, that God worked through his hands. I said what I think of the kind of god that would create such suffering in babies in order to have the pleasure of working with Ben Carson; and what I think of the doctors who think that way. Over the years I had many people tell me they were sure God sent me to them; I never said what I really felt about that; just said, "I'm glad to be here and I'll do my best." And because I wasn't rooting around in anyone's brain, my best nearly always left patients and families happy and grateful.

dan said...

That Carson even related his surgical skills to some divine power should tell you what you need to know.
Pioneering surgery should be undertaken with the humility of the knowledge that some will likely die before success. Not it is so because God favors me

Sid Schwab said...

Plus, when God supposedly acted via Carson's hands, not only had he created the suffering kids in the first place, he left them horribly disabled. What sort of hand-guidance is that? Or is Carson subtly shifting the blame to God?

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