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Teenager Dies After Cosmetic Surgery Complications

When Emmalyn Nguyen turned 18, she underwent breast augmentation surgery. The teenager in Colorado was healthy going into the surgery and her family expected her to come out of the surgery without complications. However, instead of waking up from surgery, she suffered cardiac arrest, brain damage, and was left in a coma. A little more than a year later, she died. 

Improper Anesthesia Monitoring During Surgery

The Colorado Medical Board temporarily suspended the license of Dr. Geoffry Kim, the doctor involved in Emmalyn’s procedure. According to the Board, Dr. Kim had failed to call 911 or transport the patient to a hospital for more than 5 hours after she suffered cardiac arrest. However, after negotiations, an agreement was reached between the Board and Dr. Kim where the doctor would be placed on probation for 3 years and is still allowed to operate on patients. 

According to a Board review of the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Rex Meeker, the patient experienced cyanosis with no detectable rhythm shortly after receiving lidocaine with epinephrine and bupivacaine. As an Advanced Practice Nurse, Meeker also had a duty to get the patient to a hospital and failed to do so for more than 5 hours. 

Malpractice and Wrongful Death Claim

In a malpractice claim filed by the family, Emmalyn had suffered cardiac arrests twice during the procedure. Against proper standards of care, the patient was not taken to a hospital and 911 was never called even though she never regained consciousness. 

As a result of the surgery, Emmalyn was left with severe brain damage and in a minimally conscious state. She had to live in a nursing home where she could receive around-the-clock care, as she was unable to feed herself, walk, speak, or take care of basic needs. In October 2020, Emmalyn suffered pneumonia and later died. The family is now continuing with a wrongful death claim against the doctors and healthcare workers involved in the surgery.

Surgery is Still a Risk for Younger Patients

Younger patients are generally considered to be able to recover faster from surgery and have fewer complications. However, any surgical procedure, especially procedures involving general anesthesia, carries some risk of permanent injury or death. It is important for patients and their families to be given a clear explanation of the risks and benefits of any surgical procedures by their doctor so that they can give informed consent to the treatment. 

According to an article in the journal Seminars in Plastic Surgery, of the nearly 320,000 breast augmentations performed in 2011, more than 4,800 were performed on patients under the age of 18. For some adolescents, breast development may not even be complete until age 18. The physical maturity of teenagers can vary greatly, as does the emotional maturity. According to the article, ‘self-image and societal influences must be considered, including both internal and external motivations for seeking breast augmentation.”

Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice

Plastic surgery malpractice can result in serious injury, permanent disfigurement, or even death. Victims of painful disfigurement or scarring because of plastic surgery errors may not want to come forward because they are ashamed or blame themselves. However, coming forward may be the only way to stop dangerous doctors from harming others. 

If you were harmed because of negligent care by a cosmetic surgeon or anesthesiologist, speak with a medical malpractice attorney. Fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today to talk to our team. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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