A father in Cairo, Egypt is devastated after his son's penis had to be removed, allegedly after a botched circumcision performed by a nurse.

By Maressa Brown
Coral222—Getty Images

From cord blood banking to baby naming ceremonies, parents of newborns have a bevy of key decisions to make when it comes to medical procedures and religious and/or cultural practices. For instance, as soon as a couple learns they're having a boy, they might find themselves grappling with the decision to circumcise—or not. It's an individual, personal decision for every family. Thankfully, when parents opt in, most circumcisions go off without a hitch. However, a shocking story out of Egypt highlights one instance in which the routine procedure went terribly awry. A father from Cairo is speaking out after his son's penis had to be amputated following a botched circumcision.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the father named Ashraf Helmi says he took his child to Cairo to be vaccinated and was convinced by his sister-in-law and a family friend to have his 1-month-old son Mohamed circumcised during the same doctor's visit. According to Metro, the procedure was performed at Manti Medical Centre by a nurse who allegedly told Helmi that she was a doctor. Local media said that the woman made the claim in order to earn a small bonus—50 Egyptian pounds (or $3).

"She did it at an emergency room and not an operation room," the dad told the local press. "I made sure I was there because you hear of all the botched surgeries out there." He soon became suspicious of the situation when "after finishing, she then fastened the gauze so tightly and when I told her it's very rough for a small boy, she said, 'I know what I'm doing!'"

Later, Helmi noticed his son's penis was swelling, which lead him to take his son for a follow-up visit at the same medical centre. That's when the nurse allegedly told him to wait for a "doctor," which led Helmi to report what had happened to the police. Several days later, the little boy developed an infection and was rushed to a different hospital. There, doctors had to amputate the baby's penis as it had turned gangrenous.

As if that wasn't heart-wrenching enough, the father was then faced with a horribly insensitive remark. "I didn't know what went on in the operation room; I only had someone tell me, 'Come take your daughter!'" he said.

The Jerusalem Post reports that according to Ministry of Health Deputy Minister, Hamdi al-Tabakh, the nurse admitted she had conducted the surgery. However, the Minister says the operation happened at the dad's house, not the medical center, and Helmi denies this claim. Nonetheless, the nurse has reportedly been arrested, and the case is still under investigation.

While stories like this are undoubtedly unnerving for parents on the fence about the procedure, the American Academy of Pediatrics' stance is that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks of the procedure.

Susan Blank, MD, FAAP, chair of the task force that authored the AAP's most recent policy statement and technical report, said in a statement: "Ultimately, this is a decision that parents will have to make. Parents are entitled to medically accurate and non-biased information about circumcision, and they should weigh this medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical and cultural beliefs.”

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