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13 December 2017

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A surgeon who marked his initials on the livers of two transplant patients has admitted assault by beating.

Simon Bramhall, 53, committed the offences at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital in February and August 2013.

The liver, spleen and pancreas surgeon was suspended later that year.

He pleaded guilty to two charges at Birmingham Crown Court and will be sentenced at the same court on 12 January.

He denied the more serious charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm - a plea which was accepted by prosecutors.

Surface burn

Tony Badenoch QC said the case was "without legal precedent in criminal law".

Bramhall, who came to attention in 2010 when he transplanted a liver saved from a burning aircraft into a patient , was suspended when the branding was discovered by another surgeon.

Liver surgeons use an argon beam to stop livers bleeding, but can also use it to burn the surface of the liver to sketch out the area of an operation.

It is not believed to have been harmful to the liver and the marks normally disappear.

In one case it appears the organ was already damaged and as a result did not heal itself in the normal manner, allowing the marks to be seen.

'Disregard for feelings'

Mr Badenoch said it had been a "highly unusual and complex case, both within the expert medical testimony served by both sides and in law."

He said what Bramhall had done was not isolated and required "some skill and concentration".

"It was done in the presence of colleagues," he said.

His actions were carried out "with a disregard for the feelings of unconscious patients", the prosecutor added.

Bramhall resigned after a disciplinary hearing with University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust in May 2014.

Speaking to the BBC after his suspension he admitted he had made "a mistake".

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Hi MaryHazel,

Thanks for your important point and for simplifying those test sentences. As you can guess, I was focused on people testing their understanding, not on writing crisp sentences. I like your versions.


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Hello. I always enjoy your blog and email magazine. Thank you very much for your helpful lessons.

I looked up some dictionaries, and they say that "comprise" and "be comprised of" can be used in the same way. OALD, for example, shows the two examples: - The collection comprises 327 paintings. - The committee is comprised of representatives from both the public and private sectors. Could I understand from this that "Our wine team comprises devoted wine lovers." can be also written as "Our wine team is comprised of devoted wine lovers."? I am a little confused, and would appreciate your advice.

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Hello Rainbow,

You will find "comprised of" in dictionaries. However, good dictionaries typically include a usage note about "comprised of." They explain that strict grammarians use only "composed of" and "comprises."

Language rules change. Some people--language purists--try to maintain distinctions and rules about what is correct.

In this blog, I typically explain what careful writers and editors prefer. If you follow their rules, you can be confident of your correctness.


Posted by: Lynn Gaertner-Johnston | January 18, 2015 at 10:06 AM

Hi Lynn,

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The mission's greatest discovery came when Schmitt exclaimed that he had found orange regolith, or moon soil. Cernan joked in his autobiography that he feared his crewmate had "overdosed on rocks", but took a look despite his skepticism.

The regolith was indeed orange. It turned out to be tiny bits of colored glass that likely came from a surface vent .

The Apollo 17 mission commander checks out the rover prior to loadup.

Just before going back into the lunar module, Cernan drove the lunar rover roughly a mile away so that the video camera could photograph the takeoff the next day. Next, he knelt and etched his daughter Tracy's initials — T D C — into the dust, according to his autobiography, "The Last Man on the Moon."

Years later, Cernan was looking at a painting done by fellow astronaut Alan Bean. It showed the Apollo 17 crew working near a massive boulder they had encountered during their mission. According to Bean's book, "Painting Apollo," Cernan said he wished he had put his daughter's name on the side of the rock. Bean, therefore, included her name on the rock in the painting, which is called "Tracy's Boulder."

As Cernan prepared to climb up the lunar ladder for the last time, he paused and spoke these words:

"As I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I'd like to just (say) what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."

He and his crewmates returned to Earth on Dec. 19, 1972.

Cernan recalled that he was tempted to fly on the shuttle, and he probably could have flown a couple of the early missions. But after being to the moon, he was not as inclined to do it. That's why he left the agency in 1976, he said.

"You wouldn't get me up there to do that. Once you've gone to the moon, staying home just isn't good enough."

Cernan left NASA for private business, which included starting the company The Cernan Co. for management and consulting in areas such as aerospace. While he did not fly the shuttle, he did report on it for ABC for a time. He also was chair of the board for Johnson Engineering, a company that specialized in space crew stations.

Speaking in his NASA oral interview, Cernan recalled a speech he had given in 1973 about Apollo 17's legacy. Most of his feelings on that hadn't changed three decades later, he said.

"I said, 'I've been tired of being called the end. Apollo 17 is not the end. It's just the beginning of a whole new era in the history of mankind.' Of course at that time I said, 'We're not only going to go back to the moon, we will be on our way to Mars by the turn of the century.' "

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Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at.


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