Fife grandmother Theresa Mallett suffered in silence for 11 years after her ordeal at the hands of disgraced Dundee surgeon Professor Sam Eljamel.
But on Saturday she made the loudest noise in Scottish politics, drowning out the sound of the SNP’s latest independence push.
Theresa, from Glenrothes, confronted First Minister Humza Yousaf in protest at his failure to order a public inquiry into the Eljamel scandal.
She decided to “go Rambo” during his speech and quit the party she has supported for decades in anger over its stance on a controversy that has ruined the lives of victims.
The 61-year-old’s protest made national headlines, with Harry Potter author JK Rowling slamming Mr Yousaf for putting his hand on her shoulder after leaving the podium to speak to the SNP member.
She told The Courier: “Everything I’d been through in the last 11 years came out then.
“I’d never really talked to people about it. A lot of people didn’t know that was in my life as such.
“Eleven years just came out.”
Eljamel repeatedly botched operations on patients and left them with life-changing injuries while working in Dundee between 1995 and 2013.
Theresa – who will soon have a face-to-face meeting with Mr Yousaf – was operated on for sciatica by the rogue doctor in 2012 and has since been in constant pain despite being told her surgery was a success.
Interrupting the SNP convention at Caird Hall, a tearful Theresa said: “Look what they did to me.
“I’ve had enough, I’m in total pain 24 hours a day. I can’t live like this anymore.”
Mr Yousaf urged the crowd not to jeer after the protest was met with a hostile reception before leaving the stage to speak to her.
But just hours later he was lambasted on Twitter by Ms Rowling, who wrote: “And @HumzaYousaf puts his hands on the female protestor, because of course he does.
“Would he stroke the arm of a male heckler? Would he physically take hold of him?
And @HumzaYousaf puts his hands on the female protestor, because of course he does. Would he stroke the arm of a male heckler? Would he physically take hold of him? Or would he respect a fellow man's personal space and physical boundaries when trying to reassert his authority? https://t.co/wuYW8RErxa
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 24, 2023
“Or would he respect a fellow man’s personal space and physical boundaries when trying to reassert his authority?”
Theresa, however, wasn’t offended and said her only focus is the fight for a public inquiry, which Mr Yousaf has rejected on several occasions.
“That [controversy] detracted from what I had to say,” she said.
The Scottish Government has repeatedly ruled out a full public probe into why Eljamel – believed to be working as a surgeon in Libya – was able to get away with harming patients for so long.
SNP health chief Michael Matheson is considering an independent review but campaigners say this does not go far enough.
NHS Tayside chiefs insist they were first alerted to concerns over his behaviour in 2013 – but whistleblowers claim the alarm was raised four years earlier.
Theresa admits she is frustrated she had to heckle the first minister to secure a meeting with him.
She said: “This could’ve been a whole lot easier for patients.
“It’s a wake-up call for the government. It’s got to be sorted.”
More than a fortnight ago she joined fellow campaigners outside Holyrood as they demanded a public inquiry.
It was a cathartic moment for Theresa, who had been unaware how many other victims of Eljamel were suffering like her.
She said: “I didn’t think there was any help out there. I missed everything that was happening with other people.
“I wasn’t aware of all this. When I joined the group, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Nobody had believed me [until then].”
The SNP’s handling of the scandal has turned Theresa against the party she supported to the hilt for more than three decades.
She said: “I’ll always be a nationalist. I have been for 32 years.
“But at the moment I think I’m better off taking a break.
“I’m looking after myself for now. I have to.”