Baby boy bleeds to death after circumcision

Saturday, November 20, 1982.

Grand jury to probe death of baby after circumcision

Register Staff Writer

A Polk County grand jury will decide if anyone is to blame for the bleeding death of a Des Moines infant 10 days ago, a city police official said Friday.

Lt. Ed Harlan said a police investigation into the death three-month-old Christopher Dolezal, who died after excessive blood loss following a circumcision, showed that the child's parents might have used "poor judgment." But he said it would be up to grand jurors to decide if criminal charges should be filed.

Family members have declined to comment on the baby's death.

The child was circumcised at the East Des Moines Family Health Care Center at 840 E. University Avenue on Nov. 8 two days before his death.

Despite heavy bleeding, the child's parents Frank T. and Katherine Dolezal of 2535 Clarkson Ave., did not seek hospital treatment until about 1 a.m. Nov. 9. By that time the child had gone through more than 20 bloody diapers, according to the Polk County medical examiner's office.

On Friday, a deputy medical examiner said an autopsy revealed that the infant had suffered four broken ribs and a broken right arm before death. Dr. Emmanuel Lacsina said some of the broken bones had healed. Others were in various stages of healing, he said.

Lacsina said he doubted that the injuries occurred during the child's premature birth. Family members said the baby was not circumcised shortly after birth, as is customary, because he was born prematurely.

Lacsina said he had hoped that microscopic examinations of the child's liver would turn up a clue on why he bled extensively after what normally is a simple surgical procedure. Lacsina said individuals with liver problems sometimes have blood-clotting problems, too. But the tests revealed no abnormal condition or disease, Lacsina said.

The infant's aunt, Norma Fitch, told reporters that the family understood the child's doctor to say there would be bleeding for about 45 hours.

But Dr. Harold Moessner, who supervises the clinic residency program, denied that any physician would have made such a statement. Moessner on Friday declined to comment further or to reveal the name of the physician who performed the circumcision.


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