There was anger last night after a surgeon, whose 'inappropriate and unnecessary' operation cost a woman her unborn child and left her sterile, escaped with only a warning letter. A legislator called for a heavier penalty after the Medical Council ruled that Dr Albert To Chung-fung, 45, had failed to give appropriate advice and guidance to the pregnant mother of two before the surgery, which took place three hours after her first consultation with him. The six-member panel found the Mongkok private doctor guilty of professional misconduct but only issued a warning letter. The penalty is the most lenient available. The patient, identified only as Mrs Yiu, will now seek at least $1 million compensation from Dr To for her physical and mental suffering, through a civil action in the High Court. She visited Dr To's clinic on February 17, 1997, complaining of abdominal pain. Dr To found she was six weeks' pregnant but suspected fibroids - tumours in her uterus - and recommended a hysterectomy be performed immediately. Mrs Yiu told the council at an earlier hearing that she was not given the option of postponing the operation until the baby's birth, and accepted Dr To's advice to have the operation because she felt there was no choice. Within hours of the consultation, she was admitted to Union Hospital and the operation took place the same night. Mrs Yiu, who has two daughters by a previous husband, lost the baby she would have had with her second husband. A consultant obstetrician at Queen Mary Hospital, Dr William So Wai-ki, testified that Dr To's course of action was wrong. Even if he suspected cancer and Mrs Yiu had asked for an abortion and sterilisation, the operation should have been delayed to allow her time to think it over, he said. Pathologist Dr Gary M. K. Tse testified that Mrs Yiu's uterus and her foetus appeared normal and that the benign tumour was separate from the uterus. Defence counsel Thong Keng-yee argued that Dr To did not pressure Mrs Yiu into having surgery and he performed a hysterectomy only because the patient wanted to be sterilised. Mrs Yiu denied the claims. The council ruled that the operation, which left Mrs Yiu infertile, was 'inappropriate and unnecessary'. The council said Dr To did not explain to her the alternatives to a hysterectomy. However, council chairman Dr Lee Kin-hung said a heavier penalty was not imposed because the case arose only from a 'minor communication problem' between the two parties. Mrs Yiu said after the hearing that the penalty was too lenient, given the trauma that she had gone through. 'The operation has stripped me of my pride and my femininity,' she said. Albert Ho Chun-yan, a Democratic Party legislator who is helping her case, was furious about the penalty. 'It shows a total lack of care and concern to the patient. It is a very serious matter. The damage is irreversible and it is unacceptable for someone to say it is just a small communication problem. There should have been a heavier sentence.' Mr Ho said he would write to the council to express his grievance. A source said the council feared any severe punishment would have opened a 'dangerous loophole'. 'If the council passes a heavy sentence, it means even a written consent form cannot protect a doctor,' the source said.