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EXCLUSIVE: Dundee mum needs regular facial Botox injections 20 years after Eljamel botched her surgery

Dawn Harris told The Courier how she has no feeling on the right hand side of her body after going under Sam Eljamel's knife.

Dawn Harris
Dawn Harris was operated on by Sam Eljamel.

A Dundee mum says she was left with no feeling on the right-hand side of her body and needs constant Botox treatment on her face 20 years after Eljamel botched her brain tumour surgery.

Dawn Harris, 53, told us how the disgraced neurosurgeon ruined her life, her career, and even her marriage in an exclusive interview with The Courier.

“I just think he’s a ba***rd,” she said, in a scathing indictment of the doctor accused of a litany of dreadful procedures when working for NHS Tayside.

Dawn told us she gets Botox from the health service every five months, but has to pay for any additional cosmetic treatment privately.

She also considered suicide as she struggled to cope after the harrowing operation in December 2004.

Ninewells treatment

The Dundee mum-of-two had been taken to Ninewells that November after suffering from what she feared was a suspected stroke or heart attack.

She was instead told she had a brain tumour and required urgent surgery.

Eljamel was allegedly so confident the procedure would be a success that he told Dawn she would be back to running her nail technician business in weeks.

Instead when she woke up she couldn’t walk or talk, had no feeling down her right-hand side, and her right eye was so wide open it had to get taped closed by nurses every night.

Dundee Eljamel patient, Dawn Harris' scar on her scalp behind her ear
Dawn said Eljamel ruined her life.

But Dawn alleges the ordeal did not end there.

Months later she went for follow-up surgery, but discovered Eljamel had listed the wrong eye as needing treatment.

She said: “I said it wasn’t my left eye, it was my right eye. But I was told Eljamel had put down my left eye.

“I asked them to get my clothes, since I was going home.

“They said, ‘we’ll have to double-check this then’. I said, ‘you just need to look at my face, you can see it’.”

Disgraced Dundee surgeon Sam Eljamel
Disgraced former NHS Tayside surgeon Sam Eljamel. Image: DC Thomson.

Despite the ordeal, Dawn still spent years believing he had saved her life.

Eljamel told her the reason she was in such a bad state was because he had to leave in 10% of the tumour.

It’s alleged he said this was attached to the brain stem, and removing it would have left Dawn paralysed from the neck down.

Yet Dawn says later scans revealed there is no trace of the tumour.

‘He didn’t save my life – he ruined it’

She said: “He made me believe I was lucky to be alive. I would have been dead in weeks, he told me.

“But he didn’t save my life. He ruined it.”

The Eljamel victim says her health struggles had a drastic impact on her family life.

Less than a year after surgery, Dawn’s now ex-husband said he was leaving her.

She told us: “We were quite secure. I had my own business. We were going to move to London.

“But in October 2005, he said, ‘I don’t love you anymore’.

“It cut me like a bolt out of the blue. I didn’t see that coming. I think all this did play a huge part. I lost my life. But because it’s 20 years ago, it’s like a past life.”

Still scared

Dawn says her daughter, now aged 28, has also been left traumatised by the pain her mum endured.

“My daughter has this fear every time I go into hospital I’m not going to come back out,” she said.

“It still affects her to this day, even though she’s 28 now.

Dundee Eljamel patient, Dawn Harris showing her visible scarring on her scalp behind her ear
Dawn still has visible scarring from the operation and treatment since then.

“She’s still scared to come and visit me after I’ve had an operation.”

An NHS Tayside spokesperson said: “The board continues to encourage anyone who has concerns about Professor Eljamel to contact the Patient Liaison Response Team for an individual discussion.

“NHS Tayside apologises to former patients of the surgeon and remains committed to do whatever is required to support all independent processes which are being set up by Scottish Government to respond to patients’ ongoing concerns.”

A public inquiry into the scandal surrounding Eljamel’s actions – and what was known within NHS Tayside – was ordered last September.

But the disgraced neurosurgeon continues to evade justice and is still a practising doctor in Libya, his home country.

He fled there years after he was suspended for his butchery in 2013.

“I wish they’d caught him before he fled,” said Dawn, as her fight for answers alongside Eljamel’s many victims continues.

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