Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick felt 'suicidal' after malpractice claims

·2-min read
Noel Fitzpatrick said the incident left him feeling suicidal. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
Noel Fitzpatrick said the incident left him feeling suicidal. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Noel Fitzpatrick, aka The Supervet, has said he experienced suicidal thoughts after being accused of malpractice over his treatment of a tortoise. 

The 53-year-old fitted three bionic limbs to a tortoise named Hermes to replace those that had been chewed off by rats while it was hibernating. 

Hermes died two months later, with Fitzpatrick stating it was due to a suspected gastroenteric issue but that it led to a several complaints from other vets to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Read more: Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick says he's had 'pretty bad' case of COVID

Speaking about the incident on Desert Island Discs, he said he felt no "acrimony" towards the group as he believes they were "trying to do the right thing".

Fitzpatrick, who was eventually cleared, shared: “What was going through my head was, ‘Is it ethical to try and save this animal’s life even if it is possible?’ Just because something is possible doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

Noel Fitzpatrick had fitted the tortoise with bionic limbs. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images)
Noel Fitzpatrick had fitted the tortoise with bionic limbs. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images)

“Having taken all that advice and gone through dozens of hours of planning we set out to take off the infected portions of the limbs and subsequently we did implant three bionic limbs… which were actually working very well when unfortunately Hermes the tortoise had a probable gastroenteric problem and died. But that was well after what I had done.

“We were very transparent about that on the show. But a number of veterinarians complained to my governing body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, that I was guilty of malpractice.

“I have no acrimony against them. They are trying to do the right thing. They are trying to look after the welfare of the animal as they see it.

“But in this case they felt I didn’t look after the ethical welfare of Hermes enough and they wouldn’t have done it. They would not have offered this option to Hermes.”

Watch: Puppy born with six legs named after kangaroo

He added: “I was suicidal. That’s the nuts and bolts of it.”

Fitzpatrick said he had been supported during that time by his girlfriend, their dog and cats.

The animal expert nearly suffered a terrible loss last year after his beloved dog Keira was hit by a van in September. 

In the weeks following the accident Fitzpatrick said his pet was "in a critical state" and that the fear of losing her had been "overwhelming". 

Read more: Noel Fitzpatrick thought he might die after contracting coronavirus for a second time

Fortunately, Keira's condition improved, with her accident and road to recovery charted in a Supervet episode that aired back in May.

For confidential emotional support at times of distress, contact The Samaritans at any time by calling 116 123 or emailing jo@samaritans.org.

With additional reporting by PA.

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