Ethel Easter of Houston was suffering from a hernia when she went to see a doctor about scheduling a surgery. She broke down crying when she learned that the earliest appointment would not be until two months later.
"I was like, 'I can’t wait for two months. I’m terribly ill,' and he said, 'Listen.' He got very abrupt. He said, 'Who do you think you are? You have to wait just like everybody else,'" Easter told Fox 26.
Sensing that something might be amiss, Easter hid a tape recorder in her hair while she went into surgery.
"This is my natural hair," she told the news station. "I had a weave at the time, which is braid extensions, and when I put my hair up, I put the recorder right in my hair."
Shortly after Easter is sedated, the surgeon can be heard on the recording telling others in the operating room what he thinks of Easter: "She’s a handful; she had some choice words for us in the clinic when we didn’t book her case in two weeks."
Other male voice on tape: "Really?"
Surgeon: "I'm going to call a lawyer and file a complaint." (Laughter.)
Other male voice: "That doesn’t seem like the thing to say to the person who's going to do your surgery."
Easter told the news station that others inside the operating room made negative remarks about her body.
"Did you see her belly button?” says a female voice on the tape, a remark that is followed by laughter.
A male staff member can be heard referring to Easter as "Precious."
"Precious, as though I was this big, fat black woman," Easter said.
Easter said that she was also referred to as "always the queen" and that the surgeon reportedly said he feels sorry for her husband.
"When I heard the comments on the tape and listened to them, I was shocked,” community activist Quanell X told Fox 26. "I had no idea that doctors, anesthesiologists and nurses would carry themselves in this manner in an operating room."
A spokesperson for the Harris Health System, which oversees the county-operated hospital where Easter had her surgery, declined to comment to Fox 26, citing patient confidentiality.
Read more at Fox 26.