Something was absent without leave when Johnny Lee Banks came out of the anaesthetic after what should have been a routine circumcision at a hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, last month. That, at least, is the claim in a medical malpractice suit filed this week that has men across the state, if not America, clenching their midriffs in horror.
"When the plaintiff ... woke from his aforesaid surgical procedure, his penis was amputated," the lawsuit states. It goes on to contend that no one at the Princeton Baptist Medical Centre in Birmingham has been able to explain why it had become necessary to remove the entire organ rather than just the foreskin as he had expected.
"My client is devastated," said John Graves, a lawyer for Mr Banks. The lawsuit names two doctors as defendants in the suit as well as the facility attached to the hospital that was responsible for the procedure. It was filed jointly by Mr Banks, who is 56, and his wife, who is claiming the marvellously legalistic "loss of consortium".
A spokeswoman for the Baptist Health System, which owns the hospital, said the lawsuit was without merit. "We intend to defend all counts aggressively," said Kate De Witt Darden. Meanwhile a lawyer for the two doctors named in the suit was similarly dismissive of the claims. "The allegations in the complaint are completely untrue" said Mike Florie. "The claims are totally without merit and we intend to defend the physicians vigorously in the case".
Attempts to speak to Mr Florie were unsuccessful and it was not clear which part of Mr Banks' complaint he considered untrue - that he had not been consulted prior to the amputation or that his penis had been removed.
The lawsuit does specify what order of financial compensation Mr Banks is expecting. In a similar case in 2011, a retired lorry driver in Kentucky sought $16m (£9.6m) in damages when a doctor amputated part of his penis during a circumcision procedure after finding it was afflicted with cancer. The man asserted that the doctor should have halted the procedure and asked permission before taking the additional step. The jury, however, found for the doctor.