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Zimbabwe doctor in New Zealand deaths probe

Investigation ... Jim Nicholls (left) and Angie Webber (right) who claims operation botched

10/12/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
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A ZIMBABWEAN surgeon is under investigation in New Zealand after being linked to two suspicious deaths and two separate botched operations.

The 59-year-old Mike Parry – who says treating victims of the 1970s bush war for independence in Rusape, Manicaland, was the highlight of his career – has been stood down on full pay from the Wairau Hospital in the town of Blenheim, Marlborough Region.

A coroner asked police to investigate 80-year-old Jim Nicholls' death after he suffered massive blood loss during an operation on May 24, as well as the death of Picton woman Rachel Riddell, 31, who died of significant blood loss in January 2011 after an operation performed by Parry.

Detective Inspector Geoff Jago said police were making further inquiries into one of the deaths to determine if there was any "liability or culpability".

Police would not confirm which of the deaths they were investigating.

As well as the police inquiry, New Zealand’s Medical Council is investigating other complaints against Parry that were referred to it by the health and disability commissioner.

Paul Nicholls said his father went in for surgery for a hernia and to have his gall bladder removed. His death during surgery shocked the family.

"Nobody wants to have one of their family... finish their days on an operating table like that," he said. "In light of prior incidents, there should be some serious consideration of what his future role as a surgeon should be."

One woman who was involved in a botched surgery believes Parry should never be allowed to operate again. Angie Webber, 26, counts herself "lucky to be alive" after going to Wairau Hospital in December 2010 to have her gall bladder removed.

The single mother from Picton said Parry told her it was straightforward keyhole surgery and she would be back at work within a week.

"The chances of anything happening were 1 in 3,000. ‘You're more likely to get hit by a car', I remember him saying that."
When she woke up after the operation, her mother was standing over her crying.
"I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, what's wrong?"'
During surgery, her bile duct was damaged. Parry ended the operation, leaving her gall bladder in position.

Webber was transferred to Christchurch Hospital, where her abdomen was found to be full of bile. A specialist performed open surgery to repair the damage.


A 36-year-old Upper Hutt woman also suffered complications during an operation to remove her gall bladder in February last year. She also needed further treatment in Christchurch.

Parry, who was born in Zimbabwe, began his career as a doctor in 1978 and qualified to be a surgeon in 1985.

He left Zimbabwe to work in South Africa, then the United Arab Emirates before finally arriving in New Zealand with his wife, Sue, to work at Wairau Hospital in April 2010.

In a 2011 interview, he told how he was working as a junior doctor at Rusape District Hospital with 12 nurses in 1979 when a bus carrying 80 people was attacked by “terrorists”.

Thirty-five people were brought in on stretchers with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening.
"It was total chaos. I was very much in the deep end at that stage," he recalled.
Four people died in hospital.
"That was big, something that sticks in my mind," Parry said.

Asked about the latest accusations in New Zealand, Parry said: “This is an ongoing investigation. There are patient privacy issues at stake so it's just not appropriate for me to comment at this time."

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