Vern Traversie, a 69-year-old blind American Indian tribal elder who lives on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, says that a doctor carved the letters “KKK” onto his stomach during a surgery in the fall of 2011, msnbc.com reports.
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Traversie was first alerted to the scars by a home health care worker who tended to him after the surgery took place. “Oh my God, I don’t know what they did to you,” Traversie said the home health care worker told him.
WATCH Traversie Discuss The Surgery And The Marks Below
The problem, however, is that not everyone is clear on the clarity of the marks or if they are letters at all. Local police and officials at Rapid City Regional Hospital where the surgery took place on Aug. 26, 2011 investigated the claims and say no crime was committed.
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Craig Saunders, a cardiologist at Barnabas Hospital in Newark, N.J., says that incision marks can take on the form of many shapes and sizes, depending on where exactly the doctor needs to cut on the body. Surgical tape, Saunders added, can also leave scars and lesions depending on the patient’s body type.
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These possibilities have not deterred Traversie or his supports from holding strong to their claim that the marks are a clear sign of racism.