Botched Circumcision: How a Medical Mistake Made Me Question My Decision

Melissa White decided to do what a lot of parents of baby boys do: have a circumcision performed on him. She was convinced of its supposed health benefits, like the reduced risk of AIDS and other diseases that come with the procedure. So when her OB-GYN prepared to circumcise her baby, Ben, she didn't think much of it. Until she changed his diaper for the first time following the cut. Melissa noticed that Ben's glans were bright red. The OB-GYN explained that that was normal. But what about when Ben's penis disappeared? Melissa panicked. She found that the penis was sucked into a ring of fatty skin, and that it reappeared when she pulled the skin back. But her pediatrician reassured her. He told her that the appearance wasn't completely abnormal and that he would grow into it.

Eight months later, Melissa was still pulling Ben's skin back during diaper changes. When she confided in her friend about her anxieties surrounding the appearance of Ben's penis, her friend took a look. And she told Melissa what a doctor hadn't yet-the circumcision was botched.

Melissa took Ben back to her pediatrician and it turned out her friend was right. Her pediatrician referred her to a pediatric urologist who told her that Ben had had an incomplete circumcision. Ben would have to have his circumcision redone, in addition to penoplasty-penis plastic surgery. Melissa decided to go through with the procedure as soon as possible, so her son would avoid even having any memory of this upsetting medical mishap.

It was difficult for Melissa to watch Ben undergo anethesia. She was escorted out of the room as she watched her baby go from screaming to becoming limp. And although the ordeal was traumatic for her, Ben came out of the surgery just fine. And the post-op care was simple-cleaning the penis with a baby wipe, dabbing it in antibacterial gel, and covering it with gauze. He was better within three weeks.

And though Melissa doesn't think she'll ever even tell Ben about the procedure, it certainly has changed her feelings about circumcision. Do the health benefits truly outweigh the trauma both she and her son endured in the wake of a medical mistake? She's still unsure about the matter herself.