Eminent surgeon forced to apologize for lurid nurse remark

Pedro Cavadas remarked that boys were attracted to medicine by the chance of "screwing" nurses

Leading transplant surgeon Dr Pedro Cavadas. / JORDI VICENT

Pedro Cavadas, a surgeon who is famous for successfully taking on risky, rarely performed transplant operations, issued a statement on Wednesday lamenting the way some of his words had been construed in an interview published last Saturday in the Alicante daily Información.

“In the health sector, which I belong to, and irrespective of its management, there is a great majority of excellent professionals. All my respect to that immense majority,” said Cavadas, who has performed several world-first operations including a double hand transplant in 2006 and a double leg transplant in 2011.

In 2009, Cavadas conducted Spain’s first full face transplant.

In the controversial interview, Cavadas, 46, said he doubted whether children understood what being a doctor is really like. “You might like wearing a white coat, or believe you’re gonna make a lot of cash, or think that you’ll get to screw the nurse, but having a deep knowledge of the profession is impossible,” he said. Elsewhere in the interview he stated that “people want to work in public companies because you can be lazy and get paid just the same.”

After three days of simmering controversy, the Valencian health commissioner, Luis Rosado, asked Cavadas to make amends for what he called “unfortunate statements,” which he described as “a mistake.” “When you’ve achieved professional recognition you have the obligation to be aware of the form and the content of the statements that you make,” Rosado told him.

“I am very surprised at the motives that made you choose our profession.”

In his apology, Cavadas lamented “the fact that certain collectives may have felt denigrated.”

The nurses union Satse and the Valencian Nurse Council had also asked for a retraction, stating that nurses “are not doctors’ concubines, although one gets the feeling from his statements that this belief weighed excessively on his decision to become a doctor.”

Cavadas, who has performed over 13,000 operations, works at the Manises hospital, which is public but privately run.

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