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19-year-old dies after 14 months in coma caused by botched plastic surgery

A Thornton, Colorado teenager died after 14 months in a coma caused by a botched breast implant surgery. According to CBS News Denver, 19-year-old Vietnamese American Emmalyn Nguyen went into cardiac arrest at her nursing home on October 2nd after suffering from pneumonia but was resuscitated. However, on October 4th she passed away.

Emmalyn Nguyen

“Emmalyn’s parents and siblings are heartbroken,” the family’s attorney, David Woodruff of “Denver Trial Lawyers,” said. “The turn of events was sadly unexpected.”

On August 1, 2019, Emmalyn Nguyen, who was 18 at the time, went to Dr. Geoffrey Kim at the Colorado Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery in Greenwood Village to undergo breast augmentation surgery. She saved up $6000 and wanted to improve her self-image by having the surgery after high school graduation.

rex meeker and dr. geoffrey kim

According to the lawsuit filed by the family against the doctor, Nguyen went into cardiac arrest following the administration of anesthesia by nurse anesthetist Rex Meeker. She was left unattended for 15 minutes before she was found by a nurse looking “blue,” according to Woodruff.

Dr. Kim performed CPR and was able to revive her but she suffered from another cardiac arrest, the lawsuit said. She was once again revived but 911 was not called even though Nguyen was “neurologically unresponsive,” according to Woodruff. The lawsuit said help was not called for 5 and a half hours.

“They leave her on the operating table for 5 1/2 hours and don’t call 911 for 5 1/2 hours while Emmalyn’s mother sits in the waiting room unaware of what’s happening,” Woodruff told Fox Denver earlier.

Her surgery started at 2 pm but 911 was not called until 7:35 pm, according to the lawsuit. Nguyen was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with permanent brain damage with a “minimally conscious state.” She couldn’t eat, speak, walk, or take care of herself. She was kept alive by a feeding tube and an oxygen machine.

Emmalyn Nguyen

According to CBS Denver, prior to Nguyen’s death, Dr. Geoffrey Kim later admitted to not calling 911 for five hours and had his license suspended. However, he reached an agreement with state regulators after he admitted to “unprofessional conduct.” He had his license reinstated and is allowed to practice medicine but under probation for three years.

“I don’t know what the board is thinking but I think that’s kind of unfair,” Emmalyn’s father Sonny Nguyen said when told of Kim’s agreement. “He nearly killed someone and he only gets three years probation.”

Rex Meeker is still continuing to practice nursing after he voluntarily agreed to discontinue administrating anesthesia.

The Nguyen’s family lawsuit against Meeker and Kim will now change to a case of wrongful death, according to David Woodruff, reports Fox Denver.

“In terms of the lawsuit filed against the plastic surgeon, Geoffery Kim, M.D. and nurse-anesthetist, Rex Meeker, CRNA who caused Emmalyn’s catastrophic brain injury on Aug. 1, 2019: that lawsuit will continue as a wrongful death lawsuit by Emmalyn’s parents and siblings,” Woodruff said. “Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Emmalyn’s parents believe it is important to tell Emmalyn’s story, not only to bring her some justice but also to help prevent this from ever happening to another patient.”

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