Some babies die of complications of circumcision.1 There has been a need to assemble information concerning death from complications of circumcision in one convenient location. This page is designed to fill that need.
Deaths occur secondary to loss of blood or systemic infection from the circumcision wound.
A few deaths are reported in the medical literature. Other medical literature discusses the frequency of those deaths. A few deaths are reported in the popular press.
There is reason to believe that many deaths from circumcision are attributed to other causes. For example, if a baby were to die of meningitis that was contracted through the circumcision wound, the death may be attributed to meningitis while ignoring the fact that the baby would not have had meningitis if he had not been circumcised.
Circumcision originated before the dawn of history. There was no knowledge of sanitation or the need for a sterile operating environment. Jews have traditionally performed circumcision on the eighth day after birth for many thousands of years. The medical literature was still reporting numerous deaths from ritual circumcision in the early twentieth century.2, 3 There must have been vast numbers of babies who died under those conditions through the centuries. Jewish law allows parents who have had three sons die from circumcision to leave the fourth son intact.6
Doctors are highly motivated to conceal the true cause of circumcision death. Neonatal circumcision has no medical indication and is now considered to be an unnecessary7 non-therapeutic8 operation. It is unethical to carry out such operations on minors who cannot consent for themselves.9 Consequently, most doctors who have a baby die after a circumcision would prefer to attribute the results of his unethical operation to secondary causes, such as infection or bleeding, while ignoring the primary cause, which is the circumcision that resulted in the infection or bleeding. It is, therefore, very hard to identify the total number of deaths that occur from circumcision. One senses that one may be seeing only the "tip of the iceberg," with the vast majority of deaths from circumcision being concealed. The deaths undoubtedly cause an increase in infant mortality. Male infant mortality is higher than female infant mortality. It is not known how much of this increased mortality is due to the practice of male circumcision.
Several doctors have given estimates of the number of deaths that occur each year. Douglas Gairdner reported 16-19 actual deaths a year in England and Wales from neonatal circumcisions in the 1940s.10 Sydney Gellis believed that "there are more deaths from complications of circumcision than from cancer of the penis.11 There are various figures for the number of deaths from penile cancer ranging from 200 to 480 deaths per year. Robert Baker estimated 229 deaths per year from circumcision in the United States.12 Bollinger estimated that approximately 119 infant boys die from circumcision-related each year in the U.S. (1.3% of all male neonatal deaths from all causes).52
There are several case reports of death in the medical literature. These are deaths from various infections.2-5,13-15 Sauer reported the death of an 18-day-old infant from Staphylococcal bronco-pneumonia.5 Hiss et al. reported the death of an infant in Israel from haemorrhage and hypovolemic shock after ritual circumcision.21
There are several newspaper accounts of boys who have died after circumcision. These are from bleeding and from complications of anesthesia.16-17,19-21,22-36
Several coroner's reports of deaths from circumcision are known to exist.1838 Demetrius Manker died from blood loss in Dade County, Florida on June 23, 1993.18 The coroner's report on the death of a previously healthy one-month-old infant, Ryleigh Roman Bryan McWillis, less that 48 hours after his circumcision,24 is available. Baby Ryleigh died of hypovolemic shock, after exsanguination caused by hemorrhage at the circumcision wound.3839 Ryleigh's mother said, "I unplugged his life support at 5 a.m. on the 22nd of August, one month and one day after he was born."39
Despite the abundant evidence of death from circumcision-related-causes, the March 2009 Circumcision Policy Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics omitted any mention of possible death from circumcision-related-causes, thereby helping to keep American parents uninformed of the possibility of death following circumcision.
Many African tribes have initation ceremonies in which a youth or young man is initiated into manhood. The youths are sent to a camp in a remote area where initiation ceremonies, including circumcision, take place. The circumcisions are carried out by persons without medical training. African tribal ritual circumcision produces reports of death or serious injury every year.28-36, 39,40 The Mail and Guardian reports seven dead in the Fall of 2003 and a total of 250 dead since 1995.36
Amitai Moshe, age 8 days, went into cardiac arrest after a ritual circumcision at Golder's Green Synagogue, London. He was taken from the synagogue directly to hospital and died eight days later.43-45
A family doctor in Ontario circumcised an unnamed healthy infant at seven days of age. The infant suffered multiple complications and died seven days later of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.46
Some victims of circumcision are known by name. They are:
Julius Katzenstein: 8-days-old, bled to death after circumcision, 14 December 1856, New York, NY, USA.
Myer Jacob Levy: 8-days-old, bled to death after circumcision, 18 April 1858, New York, NY, USA.
Aleck, Baby Boy: Died June 10, 1910, Island County, Washington, USA.
Michael Julian Baldwin: infant boy, 4-days-old, hemorrhage after circumcision. 21 August 1927, Monroe County, Indiana, USA.
Baby boy Lebeau, death by circumcision, April 1942, Quebec, Canada.
Roland Albert McCarty: infant boy. Death by infection of circumcision wound. Died 1932, Jacksonville, Florida, USA.
"J.B.": Died December 1942, Evanston, Illinois, USA.
Bruce Wechsler: infant boy, Staph infection following circumcision. 1957, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Chino Burrell: 7-months-old, death by circumcision, 9 June 1974, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Christopher Dolezal: Died November 1982, Des Moines, IA, USA.
Steven Christopher Chacon: Died November 1986, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Boma Oruitemeka: Death by circumcision, severe hemorrhage. 1990, London, England, UK.
Raju Miah: Death by circumcision. July 1991, Birmingham, England, United Kingdom.
Allen A. Ervin: Died July 8, 1992, Spartanburg, SC
Demetrius Manker: Died June 23, 1993, Carol City, Dade County, Florida, USA.17
Jeremie Johnson: Died July 18, 1995, Houston, TX, USA.19
Dustin Evans: Died October 1998, Cleveland, OH, USA.
Ryleigh Roman Bryan McWillis: Died August 22, 2002, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada35
Zola Mjamba: Died November 19, 2002, Umtata, South Africa
Sifiso Kobo: Died November 21, 2002, Umtata, South Africa
Nui Jia Yuan, 4-years-old. Death by asphyxia following circumcision. March 26, 2003, Singapore.
Callis Osaghae: Monday, August 18, 2003, Regional Hospital, Waterford, Ireland.26
Bennett Ntazina, adolescent boy. Death by circumcision. December 2003, Jan Kempdorp, South Africa.
Thamsanqa Mnyaka, 19, of Whittlesea, South Africa: Died Friday, 12 December 2003.
Myolisi Mayekiso, 18, also of Whittlesea, South Africa: Died Friday, 12 December 2003.
Andile Masabalala, 21, of Tsomo, South Africa: Died Monday, 15 December 2003.
Sabelo Marotya, 17, at Mdantsane, South Africa: Died Sunday, July 4, 2004.
Infant twin (by herpes virus, circumcised by Rabbi Yitzhok Fischer who had herpes and performed metziza by mouth [sucking the blood] on baby's penis) New York, New York, USA, October, 2004.
Dontsa Lwane, 19 (by suicide after botched circumcision of Dec 11, 2004) Gqebenya, Lady Frere, South Africa, January 8, 2005.
Wandile Lwane, 21 (Dontsa's brother, by suicide after learning of Dontasa's death) Ezibeleni, Queenstown, South Africa, January 9, 2005
Muyoddin Khan, 5, Indrapur, Nepal, February 10, 2005.
Abou Quir, infant boy, Alexandria, Egypt, February 15, 2005.
Jacob Christian Holliday. Circumcision damaged already-defective heart, requiring heart transplant at age two. Death resulted from cancer caused by immuno-suppresant drugs and resultant cancer at age 4, 20 October 2005, Orlando, Florida, USA.
Patrick Hoho, 58 (hacked to death by Hoho's circumcision victim), Port Elizabeth, South Africa, July 3, 2006.
Sello Ntsie, 18 (beaten to death at a circumcision "initiation school" before he could be circumcised), Zuurbekom, near Westonaria, South Africa, July 5, 2006.
Siyabonga Radebe, 14 (beaten to death at a circumcision "initiation school" before he could be circumcised), Zuurbekom, near Westonaria, South Africa, July 5, 2006.
Nkhiphitheni Nehelula, 9, Guyuni-Dzumbama village near Mutale, Limpopo, South Africa, July 8 or 9, 2006.
Xola Mbuqe, 18, Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa, November 26, 2006.
Lunga Nocanda, 18, Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa, December 18, 2006.
Infant boy. Death by bleeding following circumcision in Creswell, Oregon,February 2007, Sacred Heart Hospital, Eugene, Oregon, USA.
Amitai Moshe, 2 weeks, after a ritual circumcision at Golders Green Synagogue, London. February 9, 2007.
Celian Noumbiwe, boy, nine weeks, death by circumcision, bled to death, 22 February 2007, Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, Berkshire, United Kingdom.
Kulideep Kumar Vishnubhai Patel, 10-year-old boy, death by circumcision, 18 November 2007, Unjha, Gujarat, India,
Infant boy, 18-days-old, death by circumcision, 18 November 2007, Pilar District, Tarragona, Nigeria.
18-year-old male, death by circumcision, November 2007, Gxulu Village, Umtata, South Africa.
Obosee Prince Aseh, boy, 2-months, death by circumcision, haemorrhage, 5 June 2008, Treviso, Italy.
Gino Erojo, 11-years-old. Death by infection following circumcision, 3 August 2008, Panciao, Manjyod, Negroes Oriental, Philippines.
Beasley Allen Terrebonne, age 48, death by suicide after botched circumcision and resulting depression. 23 December 2008, Thibodaux, Louisiana, USA.
Eric Keefe, 6-week-old infant boy, death by blood loss following circumcision, 14 July 2008, Indian Health Service Hospital, Rosebud, South Dakota, USA.
Yogama Boya, 18-year-old male, death by circumcision, July 2008, Qumbu area of Transkei, South Africa.
Johnson Killed. Age 2 years and 7 months. death by circumcision. 22 July 2008, Bari, Italy.
Jayvas Carson, full-term baby, born 15 Novmber 2008. Circumcised 28 November 2008 by Dr. Rachel Carson of Coeur d'Alene Pediatics. Died at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, Spokane, Washington, 1 January 2009 after long series of complications that started with the loss of blood due to his non-therapeutic circumcision.
Bradley Dorcius, boy, 7-months-old. Death by circumcision, October 2009, SUNY Downstate Hospital. Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Kaan Otuk, boy, one-month-old. Death by circumcision anaesthesia overdose, 31 October 2009, Çukurova State Hospital, Adana, Turkey.
Sonke Foca, male, 19-years-old. Death by dehydration following circumcision, 11 November 2009, Butterworth, Transkei, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.
Goodluck Caubergs, Baby. Bled to death after circumcision. Oldham, England, April 17, 2010.
Saijad Hossain Mimu, 6-years-old. Death by lidocaine anaesthetic overdose, 25 September 2010, Safapur, Amirbad Union,Sonagazi Upazila, Feni District in the Division of Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Joshua Haskins, 7-weeks old. Died 19 hours after having circumcision followed by prolonged bleeding, despite having congenital heart defect and being in intensive care. October 6, 2010, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
James Connor, infant, seven pounds eight ounces, 21 inches long. Born at Pittsburgh, Friday, November 25, 2011. Died Saturday night, November 26, 2011. Death by bleeding after circumcision.
Anonymous Jewish infant, two weeks old. Death from Herpes infection, Maimonides Hospital, Brookyn, New York, September 28, 2011.51
Angelo Ofori-Minhah, age 28-days, of Queen's Park, Northamptonshire, England, died on February 17, 2012 after being circumcised by Rabbi Mordehai Cohen on February 15, 2012. The cause of death was bleeding, exsanguination, and heart failure, according to the medical report. The infant was reported to have lost three-quarters of his total blood volume.
Two boys, Arif, age 4 and Azhar, age 3,in Rakasipet, Bodhan, Andhra Pradesh India. The boys died on Monday, April 30, 2012 after a circumcision a few days before by a rural medical practitioner at Masjid Colony in the Rakasipet area due to uncontrolled "overbleeding".
Infant boy, age two-weeks. Circumcised Sunday, 6 May 2012 in a doctor's office on the east side of Oslo, Norway. Died of complications Tuesday, 8 May 2012.
Braden Tyler Frazier. Born February 25, 2013 at Lodi, California. Died March 8, 2013 at Sacramento. Circumcised on the ninth day of life at Sacramento, California. Died on the eleventh day of life of hemorrhage and convulsions, secondary to circumcision.
Gugeluthu Molakapa, age 4, brain dead after a circumcision at Germiston Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 2013.
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