B.C. parents lobby against circumcision

The parents of a newborn who died following circumcision surgery are pushing for hospitals to inform patients of the possible dangers associated with the removal of foreskin.

Brent and Tanna McWillis's month-old son Ryleigh died in August 2002 after he suffered severe hemorrhaging two days after he was circumcised at Penticton Regional Hospital.

The parents were told that Ryleigh would experience some bleeding, but they didn't realize how much was too much. A coroner's report concluded that post-operative instructions could have been better defined and the hospital has since produced a more descriptive pamphlet which it hands out to parents. It has also introduced new post-operative procedures.

Ryleigh's death renewed debate over male circumcision and also caught the attention of a Seattle-based group called Doctor's Opposing Circumcision.

One of its members, lawyer John Geisheker, wants circumcision banned globally, but in the meantime, he's willing to compromise and has asked infants be kept in hospital for one day following surgery.

"We would like to see there be no outpatient circumcisions, because those are the riskiest ones," said Geisheker. "The parents, although they may be solicitous and loving, are not medically trained."

Three decades ago, about half of all Canadian boys were circumcised shortly after birth, compared to 20 per cent today. Some doctors deem circumcision medically unnecessary and refuse to perform the procedure.