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‘Cocaine surgery not performed at Medical Associates’

By Camille Bethel camille.bethel@trinidadexpress.com

The surgery done to remove cocaine pellets from the abdomen of a man at a private hospital in December was not performed at Medical Associates, Dr Vijay Naraynsingh said yesterday.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident at the private hospital which failed to report that 17 pellets of cocaine were surgically removed from the abdomen of a man who became ill after  swallowing them in an attempt to smuggle the narcotic, valued at millions of dollars. The man has since been transferred for medical care at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mt Hope.

Speaking with the Express by telephone, Naraynsingh, who practises at Medical Associates in St Joseph, said he was sympathetic to the surgeon who performed the surgery.

“The report in the newspaper was really vague so I don’t know who was the surgeon, nor do I know where it was done. I just know it was not at Medical Associates. That’s a fact,” he added.

The story was reported exclusively in the Express last Saturday. 

Naraynsingh said although he does not know if the surgeon who carried out the procedure felt threatened because it was a drug-related matter he sympathised with the medical practitioner because the issue goes well beyond that of an ethical decision— because it was an illegal substance that was removed.

“If he or she were made to feel that they or their family would be at risk if they spilled the beans then it is their decision to decide if they could afford to take that kind of risk. 

“Because if someone comes and says I know where your wife works, where your child goes to school, take this thing out of me and give it back to me and see that nobody knows and if anybody knows I hold you responsible, then they are in a serious ethical dilemma,” Naraynsingh said.

He said the surgeon would have been faced with a patient who was dying because people with perforated guts, if left alone, would die.

“So I think ethically you don’t have a choice but to try and save life but if in saving life you are demanded not to disclose details. I don’t know if it would be very easy for a surgeon facing this— he can’t refuse to treat, so I am very sympathetic— if that is so— I mean I don’t know if that is so but I would be very sympathetic if it was so,” he added.

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