After working as a urological surgeon for five years at Zhejiang's Yongkang No1 People's Hospital, Dr Hu Xiang thought he'd seen it all. But near midnight on the 11th of June, a delicate-looking young man waddled into the department clutching at his groin. When Dr Hu asked what was the matter, the man removed his hands to reveal his trousers were stained with blood. After getting him to lie down on the bed, the man revealed that he had circumcised himself at home, and his penis foreskin would not stop bleeding.
"Have you had medical training?" asked Dr Hu. The young man shook his head and said he had heard that circumcision was a simple operation and thought he would do the it himself. He had looked up how to do it in books and on the internet and had made an attempt when the rest of his family were out of the house.
When Dr Hu inspected the man's penis, he observed that it had been unevenly cut and what remained of foreskin was 'mashed' and was bleeding from areas where small blood vessel had been severed. The man had also tried to stitch up the cut penis with eight stitches of white sewing cotton.
Dr Hu asked him what had happened. The man said he was 30 years old, married with a daughter, and did not like the appearance of his foreskin, and thought it 'too long'. He had therefore gathered some scissors and some sewing needles and cotton and attempted to circumcise himself. When the scissors proved too blunt, he had tried a razor blade instead and was able to cut the foreskin. The man then sewed eight or nine stitches in the wound. None of the cutting and sewing implements had been sterilised, he admitted. Dr Hu noted that the man had cut too much and had damaged some of the erectile tissue of the penis in his amateur attempts at self-surgery.
The doctors in the urology department took the man in for surgery, to try curb the bleeding and prevent further complications. They did this under local anaesthetic, but were amazed to find the man kept sitting up and giving them advice on how they should do the operation. "Don't make any creases here .. make that bit look a bit more beautiful ..." he told them.
Dr Hu told local reporters that he was experienced in performing circumcisions, and these usually took no more than 20 minutes without complications. However, the self-circumciser had needed about an hour of surgery, including restorative plastic surgery to avoid disfigurement. The man had also warned them haughtily not to tell anyone about what had happened and not to talk to other members of staff at the hospital.
To add insult to injury, the patient then 'did a runner' after being left in the hospital ward to recover overnight. The next morning he had left without leaving any contact details. Dr Hu said the usual cost of circumcision was about 500 yuan, but this man had left an unpaid medical bill of 1000 yuan. He advised the man that he would have to return for follow up of his operation. If not, he could face serious complications such as infections and disfigurement.
Dr Hu's advice was that all circumcisions should be done in a proper hospital environment. he said he sometime had seen men who had circumcisions done in unofficial 'backstreet' clinics that did not have sterile equipment - and this could lead to excessive bleeding and skin infections. However, he said this case was the first time he had seen someone try perform a circumcision on themself.