Plastic Surgeon Charged After Young Patient's Death

Emmalyn Nguyen suffered cardiac arrest during surgery, died 14 months later
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2019 2:30 PM CST
Updated Feb 18, 2022 11:59 AM CST

(Newser) Update: A plastic surgeon has been arrested in Colorado after an 18-year-old patient died following breast augmentation surgery. Emmalyn Nguyen died 14 months after the August 2019 surgery left her in a vegetative state. After a "lengthy criminal investigation," the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office said it issued arrest warrants for Dr. Geoffrey Kim, who turned himself in, and anesthetist Rex Meeker, who was not yet in custody, per NBC News. Both are charged with reckless manslaughter, per KCNC. Kim, now out on bond, is also charged with first-degree aggravated assault. They previously agreed to pay $1 million each to the family. Our original story from December 2019 follows:

The parents of a Colorado teen are suing her plastic surgeon after her breast-enhancement surgery went horribly wrong, NBC News reports. Emmalyn Nguyen, 18, suffered cardiac arrest and was severely brain-damaged during the August procedure, the family says. They blame the doctor, Geoffrey Kim, and anesthetist, Rex Meeker, who allegedly left Emmalyn "unobserved" for 15 minutes after applying anesthesia, which the parents say goes against proper practice. They also accuse the pair of waiting five hours to call 911 from their plastic-surgery clinic in Greenwood Village even though she had turned blue, needed CPR, was "neurologically unresponsive," and likely had brain damage.

"She still has some awareness of her environment," says the family's attorney, David Woodruff. "She will cry when she hears her mother’s voice; she responds to pain stimuli. But otherwise she can't communicate at all. ... She basically just lays there." People reports that Kim won't comment, and Meeker's lawyer says "complications in Ms. Nguyen's surgery were not related to inappropriate care on his behalf." Back in 2009, Meeker was sued in a similar brain-damage case that was settled confidentially, per KDVR. Now, it's the Nguyens' turn: "We thought it was going to be easier everyday but it [isn't]," says the mother, Lynn Pham. "It's really hard to see her this way. I feel like she [has] no future left." She says Emmalyn saved $6,000 for the procedure to boost her self-image. (Read more plastic surgery stories.)

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