Dr. Kang Se-hoon, former director of Seoul Sky Hospital and Seoul Surgical Hospital, had the entire nation in shock as the musician Shin Hae-chul died on his surgical table in late 2014.
Kang performed gastric and intestinal adhesion detachment surgery and stomach reduction surgery on Shin using a celioscope. After these surgeries, however, Shin’s condition rapidly aggravated as he suffered from peritonitis symptoms such as high fever and pain, and was transferred to another hospital for emergency surgery, but died on Oct. 27.
Since then, waves of complaints and more deaths have surrounded the once famous doctor, leading him to court and several dozen lawsuits against him.
With Kang강세훈 now undergoing an appeals trial with 10 months’ imprisonment and two years of probation under his belt, many thought that his scandals were buried and done with.
But another victim has stepped out to confront Kang’s latest blotched surgery, as recently as last year.
Jane Doe, a teacher in Australia in her mid-50s under a pseudonym, has a focus on building an understanding of the Korean and Victorian culture with teachers and students. She attended a National Principals tour hosted by the Korean government a few years ago, which sparked her interest in and love of Korea.
|An Australian teacher, who wishes to stay anonymous, is the latest victim of Dr. Kang Se-hoon, who made headlines with the involuntary manslaughter of musician Shin Hae-chul.|
In late 2015, Jane googled to find bariatric surgeons in Korea who were skilled in performing gastric balloon procedures; an inflatable medical device temporarily placed into the stomach to reduce weight. Kang came up as a first hit, indicating that he was an expert in the field.
“I arrived in Korea for the surgery because I thought it would be a more economical option,” Jane said in a recent Skype interview with Korea Biomedical Review. “Korea also has a reasonably good reputation with the latest advancement of technology. In Australia, it would have cost U.S. $5000, while Korea was $3000.”
She arrived in Korea in April 2016 and met Kang in Seoul Surgical Hospital. Jane described him as a friendly, professional doctor who spoke in excellent English. But her suspicions arose as he guided her to a back room instead of the surgical theater, where he operated in near isolation.
“In Australia, there are clear government regulations, and many surgeons would be in the surgical theater, along with nurses and anesthesiologists, to assist and give advice,” the Australian teacher said.
After the surgery, Jane stayed in Seoul for a week so she could visit Kang once more before she left for Australia, and he assured her everything was fine.
She didn’t have significant issues until the balloon was removed in Australia in May. A team of surgeons immediately found that the balloon was incorrectly inflated when Kang initially positioned it. Instead of removing it via Jane’s throat originally, they had to cut her stomach to remove it, resulting in scars. Also, Kang had not used methylene blue-colored fluid essential as a safety measure when he inserted the balloon.
“The balloon was already overdue to come out. If the balloon had ruptured, I would not have been aware of life-threatening bowel blockages,” Jane said.
With Kang not replying to any of her emails, including her medical report she obtained from Australia, Jane decided to surprise him in his hospital when she revisited Korea in July to catch up with old friends. But what she found was an abandoned hospital.
Jane now seeks for legal advice for a full refund from her disastrous operation. Asked if her image on Korean medical care changed, she said “yes.”
“I feel betrayed,” Jane said. “I have spoken quite highly about Korean’s medical tourism, but I won’t easily do it now. I am a lot more cautious than before.”