Colorado Teen In Coma-Like State After Breast Surgery Went Wrong, Family Sues Doctor And Anesthetist

The family of a Colorado teenager are suing a doctor and nurse anesthetist after she was left in a coma-like state after a cosmetic surgery went wrong.

Emmalyn Nguyen wanted breast enhancement surgery after graduating from high school to improve her self-confidence, her parents Sonny Nguyen and Lynn Fam told FOX31.

But according to the station, the 18-year-old, of Thornton, Colorado, is now confined to a bed in a nursing home and kept alive with feeding tubes and an oxygen machine after she went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing before the surgery even began at Colorado Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery in Greenwood Village, Colorado, on August 1.

"Her body is still there but she's not there, so we feel like we lost a daughter," Fam told the station. Now, Nugen and Fam are suing Dr Geoffrey Kim and Nurse Anesthetist Rex Meeker for gross negligence.

David Woodruff, an attorney representing the Nguyen family, told CBS Denver that Meeker failed to administer the anesthetic correctly and didn't monitor the teenager's condition afterwards.

The lawsuit alleges that Emmalyn Nguyen went into cardiac arrest and was revived by Dr Kim after staff observed that her lips and face were "blue" around 15 minutes after the anesthesic had been administered.

But Woodruff told CBS Denver that medical records show she went into cardiac arrest again a few minutes later and never regained consciousness. The lawsuit said although her heart rate and breathing returned, Emmalyn Nguyen remained "neurologically unresponsive."

Despite this, Woodruff added that she was left on the operating table and staff didn't call 911 for more than five hours. According to the lawsuit, they also failed to notify her mother about her condition when she arrived to pick her daughter up at around 4 p.m.. As a result, she will remain "essentially non-functional" for the rest of her life, Woodruff said.

Fam told CBS Denver that staff misled her about what had happened several times—with Dr Kim even claiming that "everything went fine" but the procedure wasn't carried out because her heart rate had dropped. "He said everything is fine, Emmalyn is fine, everything is good. She's young, she's healthy, she'll be okay, it's just taking her long to wake up," Fam told the station.

When Meeker eventually called 911, he told dispatchers that Emmalyn Nguyen had an estimated Glasgow score of 6 or 7, according to FOX31. Anyone with a Glasgow score of 7 or less is considered comatose.

She was taken to Littleton Adventist Hospital at around 8.30 p.m. and medics determined she had suffered a "severe anoxic brain injury," according to the lawsuit. On August 23, Emmalyn Nguyen was transferred from the hospital's intensive care unit to Vibra Hospital of Denver, where she remains in a "non-responsive" and "minimally conscious neurological state" and needs round-the-clock care.

"What should have been a very standard procedure turned into a nightmare for her and her family," Woodruff told the station. Woodruff has been contacted for additional comment.

Fam told CBS Denver that her daughter had saved up $6,000 for the procedure and that "it felt safe" as many of her friends and family members had undergone breast enhancement surgery before.

Kim's attorney Kari Hersey told FOX31 that Kim is "not at liberty to comment about any specific patient." Hershey has been contacted for additional comment.

Attorney Douglas Wolaske, who represents Meeker, told the station: "Mr. Meeker's care was reasonable and within the standard of care and we are confident that the facts will bear this out." Wolaske could not immediately be reached for further comment.

According to FOX31, Meeker settled a malpractice suit against him on confidential terms in 2012 that was brought by John Harty whose wife Paula died after sustaining brain damage during a breast enhancement surgery where Meeker was the nurse anesthetist.

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies confirmed to the station that Meeker reported a medical malpractice settlement in 2012 and that no disciplinary action has ever been taken against him by thee Board of Nursing Meeker's nursing license is in good standing in Colorado, a spokesperson for DORA told KDVR. The department has been contacted for additional comment.

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Stock photo. A Colorado teenager has been left in a coma-like state after a breast enhancement surgery went wrong. Getty