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John Adam Dormandy: championed new approaches to tackling peripheral arterial disease

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 07 June 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2403

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Re: John Adam Dormandy: championed new approaches to tackling peripheral arterial disease

John Dormandy (Obituary BMJ 2019;365:l2403) was a friend and I mentioned on one occasion how I had been forced whilst in Iraq setting up a Haem-Onc unit to see Saddam Hussein’s Head of the Secret Police, and he said the show stopper: ‘Well I had to operate on Saddam’.

The story is as follows.....John was flown to Bagdad to see a VIP and when he gets there and before he meets the VIP he is asked to visit three different hospitals to say which would be best for femoral artery surgery. He is then shown into a room in the chosen hospital and finds Saddam sitting there, charming and delightful, and all set for surgery the same night.

Saddam wanted it done under local anaesthetic because he was terrified of being killed by the anaesthetic team. John bravely said this was not possible so he had Uday, his son, pick a team of three anaesthetists from three different hospitals in the hope they didn’t all want to kill him.

The surgery was difficult but successful so they insisted John slept the night in his scrubs in a room next to Saddam, with guards outside his room. John needed a call of nature in the night and walks into the corridor, but the guards changed at midnight and the new guards thought he was an intruder. He survived.

So I ask John the death rate for the tricky surgery he undertook.....John said, ‘Why it’s about 1%’ ........which meant there was a one in a hundred chance that Uday was going to entertain John in the next few days to what would have been a new experience for him or anybody else. That didn’t of course take into account the risk that the anaesthetists were all friends.

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 August 2019
Ray L Powles
Specialist Haemato-oncologist
Cancer Centre London
Head of Myeloma, Cancer Centre London