Whistleblower nurse alleges 'hysterectomies performed on immigrant women' in US

·2 min read
Women are not aware why they are being operated on - PeopleImages
Women are not aware why they are being operated on - PeopleImages

Immigrants at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) detention center are living in conditions likened to "an experimental concentration camp", with medical negligence and a high rate of hysterectomies among women, according to a whistleblower complaint. 

Information about the operations emerged when a nurse spoke out against the Irwin County Detention Centre in Georgia, where she was employed for three years. 

Dawn Wooten claimed the facility underreported Covid-19 cases, neglected medical complaints, and refused to test symptomatic detainees, among other dangerous practices, in an interview with the Intercept.

A complaint filed on her behalf said that evidence raised "red flags regarding the rate at which hysterectomies are performed on immigrant women under ICE custody" at the centre.

"When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they're experimenting with our bodies," said one detainee interviewed by the Project South organisation, which filed a complaint to the government.

Ms Wooten said that detained women told her they did not fully understand why they had to get a hysterectomy - an operation involving the removal of all or part of the uterus.

"I've had several inmates tell me that they've been to see the doctor and they've had hysterectomies and they don't know why they went," she said.

She alleged about one doctor that "everybody he sees has a hysterectomy - just about everybody" and that he removed the wrong ovary from one detainee, leaving her infertile. 

Another woman went to have a cyst drained and ultimately got a hysterectomy instead, the complaint added.

According to the Intercept, Ms Wooten's account was “bolstered by interviews with another current member of Irwin’s medical staff – who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation – and four people currently or recently detained there”.

Project South, the Georgia Detention Watch, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network filed the complaint on behalf of detained immigrants and the nurse.

A complaint was previously filed by Project South in 2017 regarding Irwin’s poor treatment of detainees, including unsanitary conditions and refusing medical care to detainees.

“This place is not equipped for humans,” one detained immigrant at Irwin said at the time.

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