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Surgeon admits to burning initials on patients' livers

LONDON -- A British surgeon has admitted to assaulting two patients by burning his initials into their livers during transplant operations. Simon Bramhall pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of assault in a case a prosecutor called "without legal precedent in criminal law."

Bramhall used an argon beam coagulator, which seals bleeding blood vessels with an electric beam, to mark his initials on the organs.

Prosecutor Tony Badenoch says the brandings were "an intentional application of unlawful force to a patient whilst anesthetized," and an abuse of Bramhall's position.

The BBC reports that the branding isn't believed to harm the liver. The markings usually disappear, but one liver that may have already been damaged didn't heal, leaving the branding visible.

Another doctor's discovery of what the 53-year-old surgeon had done resulted in disciplinary proceedings and a suspension from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. After his suspension, Bramhall told the BBC that he made "a mistake."

Bramhall resigned from the hospital in 2014.

Bramhall is free on bail. He is due to be sentenced Jan. 12 at Birmingham Crown Court in central England.

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