June 23, 2023 was supposed to be one of the best days of Eithan Haim’s life.
His family was visiting for his graduation from his medical residency, and the official start of his career as a general surgeon. It was the “single greatest accomplishment” of his life, he says, and graduation “was a big deal” for him. But then there was a loud knock on Haim’s apartment door.
It wasn’t flowers or balloons, but rather two agents from the Department of Health and Human Services alerting him that he was the target of a criminal investigation.
‘They show me their badges, and they say they were investigating a case regarding medical records,” Haim told The Daily Wire during an extended interview. “It was one of those moments where time stands still.”
Though Haim maintains he did nothing to warrant the probe, he immediately knew what it was about. A month earlier, Haim was the anonymous whistleblower for a bombshell story about secretive transgender surgeries for minors at one of the most prominent hospitals in the country.
“It’s my responsibility as a doctor to expose this to the public”
Prior to the publication of this story, Haim has chosen to keep his identity a secret as he launched his career as a surgeon. He never intended to enter the public conversation over gender ideology, but what he saw as a resident doctor at Baylor College of Medicine left him no choice.
For Haim it all started in September 2022, when he saw The Daily Wire’s investigation of Vanderbilt University’s transgender clinic, where so-called “gender-affirming” care for minors was described as a “big money maker” and irreversible treatments such as double mastectomies were being performed on children.
“The public really woke up to these pediatric transgender programs,” Haim recalled. “It was the first time that people heard about gender-affirming hysterectomies by these bubbly young doctors, and people were understandably shocked.”
The 33-year-old doctor, however, thought he had nothing to worry about. He was working in Texas, after all, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had already issued an opinion stating that performing sex-change procedures on minors was child abuse. The hospital where he was a surgical resident, Texas Children’s Hospital, stated unequivocally after Paxton’s opinion in March 2022 that it was halting its so-called “gender-affirming services.”
“Texas Children’s Hospital paused hormone-related prescription therapies for gender-affirming services,” read a statement from the hospital, which is the largest pediatric hospital in the country. “This step was taken to safeguard our healthcare professionals and impacted families from potential criminal legal ramifications.”
Haim said the announcement was a “huge relief.” But working at the hospital, he soon learned that it may not have been the truth. Just a few days after the public statement, Haim learned about a surgery in which doctors at the hospital implanted puberty blockers into a prepubescent 11-year-old girl who believed she was transgender.
He continued to hear stories from other residents, and then came across a public “grand rounds” presentation by top doctors at the hospital encouraging the use of puberty blockers and hormone treatments. The lecture coached primary care doctors how to funnel patients into the transgender clinic, where they could receive treatment.
“I reached this unavoidable conclusion that Texas Children’s Hospital is providing this outward appearance that they shut down the program, when in actuality, within the hospital, it’s a very high priority,” Haim said. “I start realizing how blatant this is, how unethical it is, and how they’re lying to the public.”
“This is a huge scandal, right?” he said. “It’s my responsibility as a doctor, as a physician, to expose this to the public. If I don’t, then this abuse can continue. I knew that future generations, like my children, would never be able to forgive me if they knew I had the chance to do something and I decided to stay silent.”
“It requires average, everyday doctors to stand up and speak out against things like this.”
Whistleblower materials cause firestorm at Texas Children’s Hospital
The information proving that Texas Children’s Hospital continued to perform sex-change procedures ultimately appeared in a May 16, 2023 article by City Journal’s Christopher Rufo, who disclosed lectures as well as redacted images of surgery and clinic schedules showing medical activity.
It’s difficult to overstate the impact of the story. Just two days after the story was published, the Texas legislature voted to pass SB-14, the bill that officially banned transgender procedures for minors. Haim said he had “no idea” about the timing — but Rufo, the activist who is credited with orchestrating the demise of Harvard University’s president, was well aware.
“Rufo had learned that there would likely be a few Democrats who would vote in favor of the law if the story came out before the vote,” Haim explained. “And it did exactly that. It had convinced multiple Democrats to vote in favor of the law.”
One of the four Democrats who voted with Republicans, Shawn Thierry, delivered a sobbing address to the legislature, stating that she chose to prioritize “the safety and well-being of all young people over the comfort of political expediency.” There was a belief in Texas that it was Rufo’s story that won over Democrats such as Thierry.
The piece also led to a formal investigation by Texas into the hospital.
“I’ve been clear that any ‘gender transitioning’ procedures that hurt our children constitute child abuse under Texas law,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Recent reports indicate that Texas Children’s Hospital may be unlawfully performing such procedures, and my office is working to uncover the truth.”
The hospital, for the second time in fifteen months, announced that it was shutting down its transgender clinic, calling it a “heart-wrenching” decision. For Haim, this was a major victory.
“It gets big. It’s on Fox News. The Daily Wire covered it, Elon Musk was commenting on it, Jordan Peterson, all these big names,” Haim said. “For me, that was great. The information that we reported on, which was simply making public what these people were advocating for publicly within the hospital, was voted to become illegal within 24 hours.”
But as the tide turned against Texas Children’s Hospital, the effort to expose Rufo’s whistleblower began. On May 19, 2023, the local county attorney Christian Menefee stated publicly that “the leaker must be punished.”
“Someone leaked kids’ medical records from a Houston hospital to right wing activists. Instead of helping victims, Ken Paxton is investigating the hospital, pushing phony claims that gender affirming care is child abuse,” Menefee wrote, adding that he was working with Texas Children’s Hospital to “fully investigate how this happened and notify all impacted families if their information was released.”
“I expect they will fully disclose what they find to the United States Department of Health and Human Services,” Menefee said. “If a hospital employee leaked these medical records, they must be fired.”
Rufo responded on X, saying, “I will never give up my sources — especially those who stand up for kids.” Just one month later, two agents from the Department of Health and Human Services were at his source’s door.
“There’s no way we’re going to bend the knee to these people”
Menefee implied in his public threat, without evidence, that the leaker had released children’s medical records, stating that this would be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, more commonly known as HIPAA.
Haim and his legal team are insistent that nothing published by Rufo, who made all the materials available on X, would have violated HIPAA. The images he published consisted of heavily-redacted screenshots of clinic and operating room schedules that can be accessed by medical providers through Epic, the hospital’s medical record system. To use the industry’s terminology, with the redactions, it was all “de-identified data.”
The screenshots contain no information that could be used to identify patients — they are schedules showing that doctors at the hospital, Richard Ogden Roberts and Kristy Rialon, were conducting procedures on minors, including implanting puberty blockers into an 11-year-old girl. The schedules show the doctor, the treatment, the diagnosis, and the age of the patient — nothing that would constitute a HIPAA violation, according to Haim’s legal team.
EXCLUSIVE: Last year, Texas Children's Hospital announced it was stopping "gender-affirming care" on minors.
But I've obtained internal records indicating that TCH secretly restarted its child sex-change program three days later—and has continued it en masse ever since.
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) May 16, 2023
But the Biden administration’s Department of Justice appears to be under a different impression.
Haim declined to be interviewed by the agents who arrived at his apartment, opting to speak with an attorney prior to submitting to any interview. The target letter served to him by the agents and signed by the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Texas, Tina Ansari, made only vague statements about the investigation, though the agents said it had to do with “medical records,” according to Haim.
“This office is involved in an investigation dealing with federal law violations,” the letter said. “You are a potential target in this criminal investigation.”
In the months that followed, Haim’s legal representatives spoke with the Department of Justice on multiple occasions. Haim has gotten the impression that the investigators have a misunderstanding of the facts.
“They seem to be working under the assumption that he had released patient names and birthdays in order for them to be targeted by right-wing mobs, which is completely untrue,” Haim explained. “But all the evidence is on Twitter. Everything’s HIPAA-compliant.”
Haim believes that the pursuit by the Department of Justice is purely political.
“Why should I be intimidated into silence when what we exposed was voted to become illegal, and I had not violated any privacy laws?” Haim said. “For me, it’s obvious that this is a political investigation in order to prevent this from happening at other hospitals that might be lying to the public about the existence of their programs.”
The sentiment is echoed on a fundraising page Haim set up to raise money for his legal defense, on which he says the case is “being driven by a highly ideological division within the Department of Health and Human Services that aims to silence whistleblowers who expose institutionalized medical corruption and the dangers of these hormone-based interventions for confused, adolescent children.”
Haim has still not been charged with any crimes, and is actively working as a general surgeon in a small town in Texas. The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment on the status of its investigation.
It remains unclear how Haim was identified by the federal government as the leaker. Texas Children’s Hospital did not respond to a request for comment on the origins of the criminal probe.
Though Haim, prior to this article and an interview with Rufo that was also published on Wednesday, has never been identified as the whistleblower for Rufo’s story, nor as the public target of a federal investigation, somebody appears to have figured it out.
In the weeks after he was notified of the investigation, a series of four negative WebMD reviews have popped up on his page making outlandish claims, including that he “mutilates patients,” “mutilated me,” and “should be in jail for being a terrible physician.” Almost certainly not a coincidence, the reviews use similar language as Haim did in an anonymous interview with Rufo, in which he said that children’s sex organs were being “permanently mutilated” at the hospital.
Not only was the timing of the reviews suspicious — he wasn’t even seeing patients at the time — but WebMD has since revealed that all four negative reviews came from the same IP address.
Haim says he and his wife have already spent roughly $250,000 mounting his defense, all before charges have even been filed. On his fundraising page set up to help him deal with the financial costs, Haim claims they’ve exhausted the “entirety of our retirement, investments, savings, and almost all of our disposable income.”
He says it’s all worth it.
“We have accepted the fact that this is going to be a financial burden we’ll deal with for decades, which is totally fine,” he said. “This is a fight we have to carry. There’s no way we’re going to bend the knee to these people.”
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