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Mother claims doctor disfigured son after 'botched' circumcision

One Memphis mother says her son was mutilated during the common surgery. One Memphis mother says her son was mutilated during the common surgery.
Maggie Rhodes turned to the Action News Five Investigators to warn other parents about her experience. Maggie Rhodes turned to the Action News Five Investigators to warn other parents about her experience.
Rhodes says her son now screams when he urinates. He will need reconstruction work to correct what she considers a botched procedure. Rhodes says her son now screams when he urinates. He will need reconstruction work to correct what she considers a botched procedure.

(WMC-TV) - Circumcision for newborn boys is considered one of the most common medical procedures in the world. But one Memphis mother says her son was mutilated during the common surgery.

Maggie Rhodes' son Ashton was three months old when she had him circumcised at a local low-cost clinic.

"When he was in the room, he was screaming like life and death like, like there wasn't no tomorrow," she said. "When she pulled back the cloth, like the thing was like gone. She cut up instead of down, instead of cutting around the top of the penis."

Rhodes says her son now screams when he urinates. He will need reconstruction work to correct what she considers a botched procedure.

Ob/Gyn Doctor Kent Lee did not perform Ashton's circumcision nor has he ever met Ashton or his mom. Lee says most circumcisions are safe, but he says mistakes do happen.

"I've been doing this for 20 years, and I have never ever seen anybody with everything completely cut off," said Ob/Gyn Dr. Kent Lee. "Actual penectomy is extraordinarily rare."

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics 1 in 500 newborn boys experience significant acute complications as a result of circumcision. The procedure typically takes five to 30 minutes.

Rhodes says her son was in surgery for nearly three hours.

"While he was screaming, I asked her, I kept asking was everything OK?" said Rhodes. "She was like uhh, 'I don't know if he's too large to get did inside the clinic, but I am going to do it anyway.' "

Another Ob/Gyn says some people have their child go through the procedure in the hospital.

"Some people do it within the first week or two," said Dr. Charles Ryan.

Ryan says the sooner a newborn receives the procedure the better, but circumcisions can still be done up to three months after birth with no problems.

Rhodes did not have her son circumcised in the hospital because she was unable to be present for the procedure. Also, her son had a cold during his six-week-checkup. The doctor said wait.

"You try to be the best mom you can be, but it's like the attack of the enemies is always there," said Rhodes. "I feel like I failed my son."

Studies suggest circumcision decreases the likelihood of certain diseases and infant urinary tract infections. but medical opinions vary.

The percentage of newborn boys circumcised in the U.S. dropped to 54 percent last year. Rhodes wishes she had not had her son circumcised and wonders what she will tell him when he gets older.

She is devastated. Rhodes' story is far from over as she is currently talking to a lawyer.

"I feel in my heart, I felt like I couldn't do nothing but cry," she said.

Doctors say if you are expecting a newborn baby boy in your family then plan ahead.

Research the pros and cons of circumcision and ask specifically about the surgeon's experience with the procedure. Find out if they will be using anesthesia and how to treat pain after it is over.

Read the CDC's report on national and regional trends on the topic here. Join the conversation on Facebook about this story here.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. 
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