gunned down | 

Ireland’s first vasectomy doctor tells how he was shot during surgery by an ex-patient

Andrew Rynne

Eugene Masterson

A DOCTOR who was shot while performing a vasectomy operation has revealed how he later visited the man who tried to kill him in a psychiatric hospital.

Dr Andrew Rynne – dubbed Ireland’s first vasectomy doctor and who has carried out over 35,000 procedures – makes his remarkable revelation in a documentary to be screened by TG4 on Wednesday.

The doctor, who was blasted by an ex-patient in Clane Co Kildare in July 1990, says he was sure he was going to die as he was forced to stare down the barrel of a .22 rifle in his operating room.

And he says he still has the bullet, removed from his hip, which he has treasured as a keepsake since his ordeal 30 years ago.

“It was the 12th of July 1990,” he recalls. “I was doing my second vasectomy of the day and this guy comes in.

“He asked my secretary, ‘where’s the doctor?’. She very obligingly said ‘he’s down there, second on the right.’”.

He adds: “When he got into the surgery, he got the gun out of the bag and assembled it in the room in front of everyone.”

The next thing the door was kicked open.

“This guy came in with the gun up to his shoulder,” he remembers.

“He said ‘you destroyed my life and I’m going to take yours now and pointed a gun between my eyes and I could look down the barrel and could see the riffling of the barrel going backwards.”

The man then lowered the gun and pointed it towards the doctor’s genetalia.

“He had a crack at that and misses that even, thanks be to God,” he explains. “I said ‘you just shot me you bastard’, which was kind of an obvious thing to say.”

The doctor managed to flee, with the gunman pursuing him.

The man who was having the vasectomy being performed on him waited outside and gave the gunman a cigarette to try and calm him down.

But the man aimed again and took another shot and hit a wall.

“I ran all the way down into my colleague’s house and he thought I was having a heart attack,” he reveals.

The gunman went to a nearby field and was watched by hundreds of people who gathered, before Gardai surrounded him.

“If he had a shotgun he would have killed me,” maintains the doctor, who was treated for his wound.

Several weeks later a psychiatrist who had been treating the gunman asked him to meet the assailant.

“I found out he had a lot of pain after the vasectomy and he felt I didn’t give him the attention he deserved and his wife became pregnant by somebody else, which of course had nothing to do with me,” he stresses.

“So he projected him problems on to me unfortunately. He was hugely regretful and remorseful.”

He points out it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing as it was eight and a half years after the operation and in the meantime he even joined a rifle club.

The main served two and a half years in a state-run psychiatric institution.

Dr Rynne learned how to perform vasectomies in Canada before becoming a pioneer in Ireland.

He was also the one time head of the Family Planning Association.

In 1979, when condoms were permitted to be sold to married couples only, Dr Rynne vowed to expose the absurdity of the law by issuing contraceptive prescriptions to non-married couples.

When he himself brought this to the attention of the Gardaí, he was duly fined £500 in Naas District Court.

“There is a conservative element of the Catholic church which would see vasectomy as a form of mutilation and as a way of allowing men to have to have extra marital affairs and all this kind of stuff, so they can go off and have intercourse,” he reflects

“All of these kind of attitudes, and what’s we’re doing is facilitating that – not only promoting promiscuity, but you’re also mutilating people.”

· Finné, TG4 Wednesday 9.30pm

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