Known as the “mansion of sound”, her voice has won four Grammy Awards and excited the audience of the World Opera House-but she suddenly stopped performing in 2015.
Four years later, Jessye Norman died at the age of 74. Her family said she died of septic shock and multiple organ failure secondary to complications of spinal cord injury in 2015. Public life has never been explained.
However, the Guardian revealed that Norman’s brother is suing two prominent doctors and a leading private hospital in London, accusing her of paralyzing her during an operation in 2015 to try to heal a long and painful back problem.
James Howard Norman Sr filed a lawsuit accusing Dr. Adnan Al-Kaisy, an anesthesiologist and pain expert, Khai Lam, a consultant spine surgeon, and London Bridge Hospital for medical negligence that prevented his sister from moving below the waist.
Doctors and hospitals are arguing about his statement.
The singer’s brother claimed that she suffered terrible injuries as a result of an operation called epidural lysis, which was used to dissolve the scar tissue around the spinal nerves.
His claim in the High Court of London claimed that a series of errors meant that “the deceased was actually paralyzed from the waist down, she could not walk, she could not even stand in a standing frame, and she was a wheelchair-boundary”.
It continued: “She needed extensive care. Unable to get into her Westchester County home, she spent her days in a rented apartment in New York.”
The document claims that Al-Kaisy performed an epidural lysis, although “the evidence of the effectiveness of the operation is limited and the evidence of its safety is also very little”, although the operation is rarely used in the UK, and in fact it has not been used. Recommended by the British government by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) for the treatment of back pain. It also accused the doctor of not warning the singer of these weaknesses, nor obtaining her informed consent to continue the operation under these circumstances.
Norman’s brother argued that Lam also did not warn the star about the limitations of epidural lysis, and that the operation was the wrong treatment for her spinal stenosis. He claimed that Lam did not warn his sister that “surgery will lead to a serious risk of paralysis, especially severe and permanent nerve damage, including paralysis and inability to use the lower limbs.”
According to Norman, his sister suffered from sciatica in March 2015 after undergoing surgery in New York the previous month. A week later, she came to London to complete some work, and on the advice of a doctor in her hometown of the United States, she had a consultation with Lin at London Bridge Hospital. He pointed out that standing for a few minutes made her right leg sore and numb. He tried two treatments-steroid injections and inserting “distraction devices”-but neither relieved her symptoms.
Norman Sr claimed that Lam then recommended that the singer perform an epidural lysis and that Al-Kaisy do it. Both are engaged in private healthcare and also work for Guy and St. Thomas (GSTT), the leading NHS trust agency in London. Al-Kaisy underwent surgery at the London Bridge Private Hospital on May 12, 2015.
Both doctors are leading practitioners in their medical professions. Lin often publishes articles in medical journals and speaks at many medical conferences. The website of the GSTT Private Patient Unit stated that Al-Kaisy “has an international reputation as a leading expert in pain management”.
The legendary soprano was still receiving treatment in a London hospital after receiving treatment in 2015. At that time, she sought advice from Leigh Day Law Firm for legal action for the first time, and officially launched the proceedings the following year. When she died in 2019, her brother took over as the claimant.
His claim also claims that HCA, a large American healthcare company that owns and operates London Bridge Hospital, has neglected to ensure that the epidural lysis recommended by Lam and Al-Kaisy is safe, appropriate, and evidence-based.
Olive Lewin, Leigh Day’s professional medical negligence lawyer who represented Norman Sr in the litigation, said: “Miss Norman’s injuries made her last years very difficult. Regrettably, although she wanted to, she could not continue to participate in her Favorite activities and events in the last four years of life.
“Jessye Norman suffered from painful sciatica and was admitted to London Bridge Hospital for pain relief. She was eventually paralyzed within a few hours of a procedure. The claimant stated that there was no informed consent and the procedure The effectiveness of has not been proven.
“Therefore, the negligence claim is being pursued. This is still an ongoing claim and is currently being defended.”
When approached by the Guardian, none of the defendants in the case responded directly to the allegations, but they were contesting the allegations against them, and everyone presented a defense.
HCA Healthcare UK owns and operates other private hospitals in the capital besides London Bridge, including Wellington Hospital, Princess Grace Hospital and Lister Hospital.
An HCA spokesperson said: “In order to ensure the confidentiality of every patient we care for, we will not comment on any personal care investigation.”
Attorney Browne Jacobson, who represents Al-Kaisy, said that patient confidentiality means he can only deny these claims. His lawyer Matthew Trinder added: “I can tell you that all allegations have been strongly denied and a sufficient defense has been provided.”
Lin did not respond to the request.