Baby Dies from Circumcision in South Dakota

Yet Another baby dies from circumcision. This time, in South Dakota. This is utterly tragic and completely unnecessary. While we do not save all the headlines on this topic, at least 8-10 baby boys die every month due to genital cutting in the United States. Typically, only 1-2 per month make headline news. There are many more (most U.S. stats show 1 in 3 baby boys) where complications to one degree or another arise post-op. Hospitals and insurance companies are effective at paying off and covering up, the morbidity and mortality due to circumcision. As one (circumcised male) reader of peaceful parenting recently pointed out: 100% of babies circumcised at birth are harmed - they have had their most sensitive, vital, sexual organ amputated - for no medical reason.

We must stop this insanity.

For more information on deaths due to circumcision see:


Increased Dangers of Circumcision Report (pdf) at

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision (book)

Death From Circumcision

Cut vs. Intact Outcome Statistics

Baby Dies After Circumcision Surgery Blood Loss and Heart Failure

Books, sites, articles linked from Are You Fully Informed? 

Parents sue over baby's death after circumcision

By Josh Verges

The parents of a 6-week-old boy who bled to death after a circumcision at Rosebud’s Indian Health Service Hospital last year are suing the government for wrongful death.

According to documents filed Wednesday in federal court, Eric Keefe underwent a circumcision on June 13, 2008. His mother gave him Motrin and Tylenol for pain and he suffered massive blood loss at home that night, dying at the hospital the next morning.

His parents, Forrest and Mary Keefe of Wood, say Dr. Douglas Lehmann failed to inform them of the type of pain medication they should have used.

The Keefes are seeking $2 million for personal injury and wrongful death.

Sturgis lawyer Mick Strain, who represents the plaintiffs, said he and the parents wouldn’t talk about the case until it is tried or settled. The file lists no attorney for the government.


  1. Medicaid pays for 28% of all circumcisions in the United States, and unfortunately, this baby was likely a victim of that. 16 states have done the right thing and ended Medicaid coverage of non-therapeutic circumcision.

    Please join us on Facebook to tell South Dakota Medicaid enough is enough.

    National group

  2. Tragic. Poor baby. I'm wondering though, how knowing what type of pain medication could have prevented the death? Maybe I'm missing something.... what does pain meds have to do with the bleeding to death as a result of the circumsision?

  3. UGH, that poor tiny baby! *tears rolling down my face*

  4. That is so sad! I can't even imagine....

  5. my heart breaks - so tragic - from concept to procedure to result!!

  6. I'll never forget the time I watched Oprah and saw the man who had lived his life as a female because his entire penis was accidentally removed and the doctors told the parents to pretend he was a girl. Several years later after being on Oprah he committed suicide. There are no words for this kind of tragedy.

    Also, while so many in this country are protesting health care reform- why aren't these same people freaking out on tax dollars funding Medicaid paid for circumcision?!?!

  7. While aspirin effectively thins blood, it is unlikely that Tylenol or Motrin thinned this baby's blood to the point of hemorrhage. It was the amputation - the surgery - that killed him. Not his mother's attempt to reduce his pain.

    However -- does anyone know an adult who would okay the severing of their prepuce organ (male or female) with just a dose of Motrin?!

    What we do to babies is sick.

  8. I bet if medicaid didn't pay for it A LOT less circs would be done...I have never needed to know, but I am wondering about private health insurance, and its policies on covering circ??

  9. Laura,
    Private insurance is nothing compared to Medicaid. Medicaid pays for 28% of all newborn circumcisions, and often sets the standard for whether or not private insurance pays. When a state ends coverage of circumcision, the rate drops about 25%. This happened in my state, NC, in '03. We went from about a 75% rate to a 56% rate, just within a few years.

    Please get into this, everyone!

  10. If you look at Canada's rates as well - when they completely eliminated all circ funding, rates dropped from an already-lower-than-the-U.S. rate of 30% to 10% and continued to decline over the next few years.

    Maryland also has info released on how their rates plummeted after the state stopped paying for circumcision, however, I cannot find that document right at the moment to cite just how much it changed 'overnight'.

  11. holy crap! I had no idea about that Caroline...I am blown away that it is not recommended by the governing body of Pediatrics, yet states still cover it. Imagine if this changes with the reforms that are coming our way! This may be one issue some right-wingers would agree on me with ;) the money spent on this by the gov't could go to so many better things.
    I AM going to get into this more, I want to know what happened in your state to end paying for circs!

  12. You'd think! I'm still fascinated as to why Texas, such a conservative state is okay with throwing money away in this manner.

    Talk to Amber Craig. She can tell you the story first hand :)
    NOCIRC of North Carolina - Durham
    Amber L. Craig, P.O. Box 5081, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

  13. This is horrible! ...I don't know when circumcisions are done for the most part. I agree they are usually performed within a week, but I have known some Jewish parents to wait 6 weeks? Why is that? I was invited to one such BRIS last year. I declined attending!!!!!!

  14. Carla - sometimes parents wait to cut their baby if he is already ill/sick/preterm. We wouldn't want to mutilate an already suffering child, would we? uhhh...

  15. The parents wouldn't need to be suing if they had left him intact in the first place, this kind of thing seriously pisses me off

  16. Am I a terrible person for hoping the parents don't end up with a goddamn dime? They took a risk with their boy's life, and EVERYONE lost. Of course the boy lost hardest of all. :'-(

  17. We don't need to stop these parents, they're not likely to do that again. We need to stop those doing the circumcising, so make THEM pay.

  18. Yes Gary, exactly that!

  19. i feel like i've been living in a cave for most of my life. i never knew baby boys died from being circumcised! and i'm also confused even more about medical practices. if circumcision is so risky, WHY are doctor still doing them? we can't have VBACs because of the risks, yet they'll still do the circumcisions despite the risks.

  20. The vast majority of physicians the world over are against unnecessary (harmful!) genital cutting. The group, Doctors Opposing Circumcision, is an excellent example of physicians standing up to this human rights violation that also violates all aspects of a doctor's code: FIRST, DO NO HARM.

    Unfortunately, most hospitals employ at least ONE doctor willing to perform circumcision surgeries so that they can still bring in the $$ for the practice and not turn away parents who come to birth wishing to cut their son.

  21. What a wealth of info for me you have been! I am looking into the links both you and Caroline provided- you two got me all fired up, composing letters to politicians in my head! I need a day off, get it all down on paper and start mailing these guys. I wish we lived in the same town, how awesome would it be to get our intact little guys together to play while we drank some coffee :)

  22. I too didn't realize babies died from circ. I knew there are many complications, in fact I used to work with a woman whose son hemorrhaged after his circ, after they got him home. I'll never forget her telling us how his diaper looked pink, and saw it was full of blood when she opened it up. He ended up needing a blood transfusion. I ran into her several years, and several kids later and told her how her circumstance was a reason I didn't circ my son.

  23. I had no idea all the risks that were involved with circumcisions until I found your blog. This information is SO important.
    I was guilty of being a follower when it came to medical issues (and I think most are unfortunately). So I just assumed that what everyone else is doing is what is ok. This changed greatly after I experienced my c/s and being in a hospital setting. Now I know better. I am so glad that I am learning about circ. before I have a son so I can make an informed decision.

  24. How can the parents sue when they should be sued? Makes no sense.

  25. They're going to lose, sadly, if they continue with the whole painkiller thing. The pain killer isn't what killed him, the circumcision did. They should be suing for lack of informed consent. I seriously doubt they were ever warned their baby could die.

  26. It's a lot more dangerous than most people think!

  27. Also keep in mind that this occurred in a country where the parents and doctor would be facing felony charges for violating the federal law protecting baby girls' genitals from so much as a pin prick. Nice double-standard.

    Thanks for fighting the good fight, once again, Danielle. Ignorance on this issue has been entrenched for many years, and people like you really help educate.

  28. What is especially tragic here is that Native American have resisted circ. This family decided to conform to the white American mainstream -- and paid the ultimate price.

    Since I discovered intactivism in 1983 (by reading Wallerstein's book) I've had the impression that RIC and bris in the USA and UK results in the death of about 3-4 babies per decade. I wonder if the truth isn't on the order of 1-2 babies per year. If I am correct, I am astounded that RIC has survived in the litigious USA. That it has survived is consistent with routine circ being an American sexual and sanitary obsession.

    I also fear that hospitals and doctors have ways of concealing that RIC was the true cause of death, and treat money paid to the bereaved parents as simply a cost of doing business.

    In South Africa, circ is a puberty rite of passage, carried out in barbarically unsanitary ways that result in a death rate on the order of 20 per year.

    Circ ended in the UK when an article in a leading medical journal (Gairdner 1949) reported about 10-15 deaths per year in the UK during the 1920s and 30s, a time and a place where only 30-40% of babies were routinely circumcised.

  29. This is truly sad and scary at the same time. I had my lil one circumsied the day he came home from the hospital and that night he cried so hard that it ruptured and we had to go back to the hospital and have him checked out. If I had truly research this before we made the decision I would not have had it done.

  30. Something seems to be lost here in the comments.Would it make you all feel more comfortable if this soul was lost due to some other circumstance? Indian Health Service is a treaty right; not a welfare benefit! Children are dying at the hands of IHS doctors, period! You do not know what happened in this case, please pray and wait for the truth to come out in this matter.

  31. My son is not cut but is experiencing his first infection (at 3y.o.) and now I'm worried they are going to try and tell us he needs to be cut. I'm not sure what to do. They recommended we go to a urologist if it doesn't get better :-/

  32. What type of infection? A UTI?

  33. What type of infection does your son have and how was it diagnosed? If it is yeast, there are many, many natural treatments. If it is a urinary tract infection, then antibiotics should fix it in short order. Are you certain it's an infection and not discomfort from normal prepuce separation?

  34. Nichole:
    First of all, infections are easily treated without amputation. Girls are much more likely to have infections and repeat infections and no one (at least in the USA) suggests circumcision, they offer medication. Your son is experiencing his very first infection so I wouldn't worry, but if they do bring up cutting I would flat out tell them that circumcision is not an option then say: "Pretend my child is a girl. Now, how would you treat this infection?"

  35. Nichole, you may very well experience opposition from doctors, but ultimately, you must be the mother. They can suggest, push and even bully, but you know what is best. You gave birth to, fed, loved and raised this child, not them. Their education means nothing in the face of your experience as a mother. You have a gut feeling for a reason.

    Circumcision causes innumerable problems. My nephew had a botched circumcision and now his penis is terribly deformed.

    I have a friend who is being bullied by her child's doctor because she won't submit a baby to a very invasive and experimental test. Ultimately, she's had to say that she knows that this test is not good for her child, and either the doctor will treat her child, or they are going to another doctor.

    There are tons of urologists out there. If the one you go to opposes your wishes, go to another one. I know that sounds simplistic, but that is the best option and one that will preserve you son's future sexual health.

    Sending you lots of love! ♥

  36. Nichole, have they tried antibiotics either oral or cream?
    Is it urinary tract infection? Or an actual infection on the penis?
    Is it really an infection or just the natural separation of the glans from the foreskin?

  37. Thank you :) I did not go with him to the ped, my husband did so the information is lackluster. I know that he has a ball of smegma stuck under the foreskin and they suggested gently trying to work it out but that side of his foreskin looks like it has not separated and I don't want to do more damage than good. they didn't do anything to "treat"it so I'm guessing they did not diagnose it as a UTI or yeast infection.

  38. Nichole - be prepared, because the urologist probably WILL at least suggest it. However, remember, you are the parent - they cannot push that decision on you.

    my son had a UTI at 7 weeks old, and it was determined that he has reflux from his bladder, up his ureters and into his kidneys. This usually resolves in infants, but both the kidney specialist AND urologist recommended circumcision to"reduce the risk of" future UTIs. I simply told them, point blank, that we will NOT be circumcising, and that as far as I was concerned IF he got another infection, we would do as we did the first time and treat it with antibiotics. When they started quoting the risk reduction of circiumcision, I was quick with quoting back to them that the studies showed "at BEST" a potential 0.5%-0.8% difference, and only in the first year of life (I didn't even get into how poorly controlled/executed some of these studies were). I got my point across that the removal of my son's foreskin was NOT up for discussion.

    Do not be afraid to say no. Remember, these doctors work for YOU. If they will not listen and work within reason, find another urologist.

  39. @Jillian. Motrin (Ibuprofen) Is a blood thinner, should never be given after a non sutured incision.

  40. It sounds like a smegma pearl from hwat you described. There is more info and a photo in this posting
    "Something you may also see is called a smegma pearl. This is a whitish lump that can range in size from very tiny to pea size or larger. Smegma (the Greek word for soap) is a substance that consists of dead skin cells, body oil and other debris that clumps together forming a ball. It is not damaging and will work its way out once separation is sufficient for it to do so. It is not recommended that you try to massage it out or mess with it since this could cause tearing between the foreskin and the glans and result in pain and possible infection."

  41. thinking about where this circ was done, i am guessing the parents were not informed. and i would also assume that even if they thought they were informed they were lied to, indian health services has been working on killing native americans since its very sad. i am certain that the parents did not have any accurate information at all on circs and the damage they do. if all of us hadnt looked into it would we have known?

  42. Stories like this make me so sad and angry at the same time. I have 2 sons, aged 20 & 18, neither of whom were circumcised. My doctor didn't agree with the procedure and told me if I wanted to have it done that another doctor would have to perform the procedure. It wasn't an issue because I could in no way envision doing that to any child of mine.

    I would no more circumcise a boy than I would a girl. And yes, in some countries, female circumcision takes place in very barbaric ways.

    I can't wrap my brain around any logic that dictates removing something that a child is born with unless it's a life-threatening deformity of some kind - and even that might be open to interpretation.

    Egg and sperm come together and begin to divide to create new human life. Who are we to say that how someone is born should be altered for convenience or cosmetic reasons?

    I could go on and on, but I won't. My heart goes out to the parents who lost their son, but... why was the baby circumcised in the first place?

    1. There is no logic Jane,just paranoid,archaic reasoning to amputate a fully functioning,integral and important part of a male's anatomy.
      Parents who decide to amputate part of their child's body should be aware of the consequences.The reason your babies are having complications,
      Are in pain,or are needing medical aid is this:Your child should not have been circumcised!..he was perfect the way he was born..please stop this bloody madness.

  43. Stories like this break my heart. No child should be subjected to such torture. And that's what it is . . . torture.

    I can't thank this website and the Facebook page for it enough. I used to troll these very pages touting why it is "necessary to circumcise." I was almost militant in my pro-circ stance. Then someone from your Facebook shared a link to a video of the actual procedure with me in my messages, and it totally changed my mindset. I couldn't make it even halfway through the procedure video, I was in tears! I do not yet have any children of my own, but I know now that my boys will remain intact as they were intended to be.

  44. Josh Verges bore false witness against me. He has no proof that I gave both Motrin and Tylenol. He told me that since I did not speak to him he had to explain what happened. Due to the fact that he fabricated his horrible story I asked him to retract it. He has no proof whatsoever that I gave any medication once discharged! Shame on him. Mr. Verges has not retracted his slanderous story, apologized for his lies, or offered his sympathies for the loss of my son, Eric Dickson Keefe. 1st Amendment Rights do not include lying about the terms of another human beings death. If he wanted to "explain" what happened why did he not express how Dr. Douglas Dixon Lehman breached the standard of care or failed to properly advise?! Why did he not mention how an IHS RN Debbie Knispel barged into my private home before the FBI or Criminal Investigator could get there to secure evidence before she rampaged through our property. Is it standard procedure for the Dr.'s involved in these lawsuits to send their nurses to our homes? The potential to tamper with evidence and other extremely unethical behavior is wide open and taken full advantage of. Debbie spat out at me, "It was just a baby!!!" I will continue to pray for the truth and justice in this matter. I believe all of our children's lives are valuable despite RN Knisple's comments and crude conduct! Mary Aurelia Keefe



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