A Colorado plastic surgeon whose teenage patient died during a botched breast enhancement procedure has been sentenced to just 15 days in prison.
Dr. Geoffrey Kim, 54, admitted he didn’t call 911 for five hours after then 18-year-old Emmalyn Nguyen turned blue and suffered a heart attack when she was given seven times the necessary anesthesia by nurse Rex Meeker on August 1, 2019.
A jury found Dr Kim guilty of attempted reckless manslaughter and obstructing a telephone after he failed to call for help – but cleared him of the most serious charge – negligent homicide.
The surgeon had been facing a sentence of up to three years in prison, but on Thursday he was given just 15 days behind bars, followed by two years on probation.
Kim was ordered to pay $70,000 in fines, while completing 120 hours of community service in a facility for those who have suffered brain injuries, according to Arapahoe County Court records.
Dr. Geoffrey Kim (pictured) admitted he didn’t call 911 for five hours after then 18-year-old Emmalyn Nguyen turned blue and suffered a heart attack when she was given seven times the necessary anesthesia by nurse Rex Meeker on August 1, 2019
Nguyen was left brain dead and couldn’t speak or walk after the surgery and died 14 months later
The family lawyer, David Woodruff, said that Emmalyn ‘was left unobserved. No one watched her for about 15 minutes. A nurse comes into the room and finds her blue’
Both Kim and Meeker have also to paid the Nguyen family $1 million each in a wrongful death settlement.
Kim’s defense team blamed anesthetist Meeker for the death of Nguyen, claiming he gave her a toxic blend of drugs before surgery, including enough fentanyl to stop her heart, according to the Denver Post.
Meeker initially faced manslaughter charges but had them dropped in exchange for testimony at trial, according to 9news.
Last week, he argued Kim wouldn’t let him call 911 for over five hours, KDVR reported.
Both Kim and Meeker have already been forced to pay the Nguyen family $1 million each in a wrongful death settlement.
Meeker gave up his license to administer anesthesia but still has his medical license.
Nguyen was left brain dead and couldn’t speak or walk after the surgery and died 14 months later.
Her parents, Lynn Fam and Sonny Nguyen, told KDVR in December 2019 that their daughter wanted breast implants to shore up her self-image after graduating from high school.
Kim admitted he didn’t call 911 for five hours after Emmalyn Nguyen (pictured) went into cardiac arrest when she was given anesthesia
Emmalyn’s (pictured) brain injury meant that she couldn’t walk or talk or feed herself and needed 24-hour care. She was showing signs of progress before she died
Emmalyn (in bed) is pictured at the nursing home with her parents, Lynn Fam (right) and Sonny Nguyen (left). She was fed via tube and hooked up to an oxygen machine to breathe
The teen, who was 18 at the time, had saved $6,000 for the surgery and was said to have been in good health.
The family lawyer, David Woodruff, said Emmalyn ‘was left unobserved. No one watched her for about 15 minutes. A nurse comes into the room and finds her blue.’
During the more than five hours Emmalyn was lying on the operating table, Woodruff said that mom, Lynn, was sitting in the waiting room, not knowing about her daughter’s condition.
Lynn told the news station that at one point, the doctor came out to tell her that she wouldn’t be able to check on her daughter.
‘She’s doing fine and she’s young, maybe that’s the reason why she’s taking longer to wake up,’ Lynn said that doctor told her.
Woodruff said that when the medics arrived, they used CPR to try to revive Emmalyn, but she didn’t regain consciousness.
Her brain injury meant she was unable to talk, walk or feed herself, so she was placed in a nursing home to get round-the-clock care. She had to be fed through a tube and have an oxygen machine breathe for her.
Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Captain of Investigations, Travis Stewart, told the New York Post: ‘The investigation has taken more than two years to complete and involved dozens of interviews and search warrants.
Kim’s defense team blamed anesthetist Rex Meeker (pictured) for the death of Nguyen, claiming he gave her a toxic blend of drugs before surgery, including enough fentanyl to stop her heart. Meeker testified against Kim at trial
‘Our hope is that this will be the beginning of bringing justice and a sense of closure to Emmalyn’s family.’
Prior to her death, Woodruff said that Emmalyn was showing signs of progress, was able to smile at times and was medically stable, CBS Denver reported.
The family said that Meeker didn’t administer Emmalyn’s anesthesia properly and then failed to keep track of her condition. Kim, meanwhile, was said to have performed a resuscitation attempt.
In the eventual 911 call, Meeker can be heard saying, ‘She’s not conscious. We’ve evaluated her. We’ve estimated a Glasgow score of 6 or 7.’
Anywhere from three to eight on the Glasgow scale indicates a patient is comatose.
Colorado state records before Emmalyn’s case showed that Kim had not had any previous disciplinary action taken against him.
Meeker was said to have been sued in 2009, after a woman he anaesthetized sustained brain damage and died while undergoing breast implant surgery. The case was settled in 2012.