A woman whose life was forever altered after a "love doctor" mutilated her genitals is telling her devastating story in a book about the doctor she trusted to perform a simple routine procedure.
Cheryl Sexton Dillon had been happily married with three children, but at the age of 36, her life had turned into a nightmare after Dr. James C. Burt recommended that she get a hysterectomy when all she really needed was minor bladder surgery.
Dillon said that what followed was not just a simple hysterectomy, but a nine-hour operation in which the doctor completely mutilated her genitalia, by relocating her vagina and removing her clitoral hood.
"I thought I would die. The pain was unlike anything I had ever experienced in places I couldn't understand," she told ABC about the 1984 procedure.
"When I went to Dr Burt and asked, 'What have you done?' he said, 'What are you talking about?' I found out from other doctors that I had been mutilated," she said.
She said that one doctor even compared her mutilated genitals to "a filleted fish".
Dillon remembered that after the traumatic surgery, ordinary activities like sitting down and wearing pants were impossible. She said that having sex with her husband caused her excruciating pain and because she could not make love to her husband her marriage eventually fell apart.
Dillon said that she had put all her trust in Dr. Burt. He was an eccentric but respected ob/gyn at St Elizabeth's Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, and a promoter of procedures redesigning women's genitalia to improve their sex life.
Burt even wrote a book about it in 1975 called "Surgery of Love". In the book, the doctor had declared women to be "structurally inadequate for intercourse" and that women's pathological condition could be treated with surgery.
For almost two decades, Burt had performed countless operations on women and left most of his patients horribly disfigured. It wasn't until 1989, following a barrage of complaints and lawsuits, did he finally surrender his medical license.
The Ohio Medical Board cited Burt in 1988 for alleged "experimental and medical unnecessary surgical procedures, in some incidents without proper patient consent." The board said that many of the patients who underwent these procedures thought they were undergoing routine procedures like post-pregnancy repairs and hysterectomies.
According to ABC News, St Elizabeth's Hospital began requiring Burt to use "a special consent form specific to love surgery" in 1979, and he himself admitted that he did not always get proper consent for some of his earliest surgeries.
While Burt, who is now 91-years-old and bankrupt, declined to comment on the story, his son 68-year-old James C. Burt III, of Los Angeles, defended his father to ABC.
"There are hundreds and hundreds of Dr Burt's patients, alive today, whose marriages and lives were dramatically improved by his wholesome restoration to their fully functioning sexual responsiveness, which most of those patients had previously enjoyed earlier in their marriages," he said, according to ABC. "Until there are those in the media or the medical profession who are willing to look at the successful results, which fully benefited the lives of countless numbers of his patients, there should and will be no further comment on behalf of Dr. Burt or his family."
As for Dillon, she had been one of the first women to file a malpractice lawsuit against Burt and with St Elizabeth's Hospital in 1985 and had eventually settled out of court.
The now 65-year-old is now documenting her experiences in a book.
She said that when she first went to Burt, she was already in a happy second marriage with three children.
He told her that she didn't really need to have more kids, so she followed her doctor's advice and went for a hysterectomy.
She said that after several weeks of pain, she went to see another doctor for a second opinion.
"I asked for the best doctor, because I had to find out what was wrong with me. He looked at me and called in one of the nurses and said, 'Have you ever seen anything like this?'" she said.
"He had repositioned my vagina and circumcised me. The doctor said he had never seen it anywhere except in African tribes," she said, according to ABC. "The way I was deformed, I couldn't have sex. I ended up going through three different corrective surgeries but by that time, my marriage was shot and I lost the best thing that had happened in my life."
When Dillon went public, several other women with similar stories also came out and filed malpractice lawsuits against Burt. However, many of the cases had been dropped because doctors would not testify, according to the New York Times.
Dillon has moved back to her home in Ohio to take care of her elderly parents who are both affected with Alzheimer's.
She says she still lives with the effects of what happened more than two decades ago.
"My life has taken a lot of different turns and ups and downs. So much of it happened because of that part of my life," she said.