Police have arrested the Colorado plastic surgeon and nurse anesthetist who were responsible for a performing a botched breast augmentation that led to the death of teen Emmalyn Nguyen.
Surgeon Dr. Geoffrey Kim has been charged with reckless manslaughter and first-degree aggravated assault, both felonies. Nurse anesthetist Rex Meeker was also charged with reckless manslaughter.
Nguyen had gone to Kim at Colorado Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery for a breast augmentation on Aug. 1, 2019. After she was administered anesthesia, Nguyen went into cardiac arrest and began turning blue, but authorities say that Kim did not call for emergency help to take her to the hospital for about five hours.
Nguyen went into a coma and suffered severe brain damage, leaving her “in a permanent ‘semi-conscious state,” her family alleged in a lawsuit against Kim and Meeker. Fourteen months after the surgery, on Oct. 4, 2020, Nguyen died.
Medical authorities said that Kim and Meeker had an obligation to call for help and get her to a hospital. Kim turned himself in on Wednesday and was released on a $5,000 bond. An arrest warrant is currently out for Meeker.
“We opened this case in August 2019. The investigation has taken more than two years to complete and involved dozens of interviews and search warrants,” Captain Travis Stewart, of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. “Our hope is that this will be the beginning of bringing justice and a sense of closure to Emmalyn’s family.”
Nguyen’s parents had said in the lawsuit that the doctors left her “unobserved” for 15 minutes after they administered the anesthesia, during which time she went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing. David Woodruff, the attorney representing Nguyen’s parents, told PEOPLE in December 2020 that the staff at Kim’s plastic surgery center allegedly performed CPR on Nguyen twice, and waited five-and-a-half hours before calling 911. Her parents were not immediately told their daughter had gone into cardiac arrest, Woodruff alleged.
While in a vegetative state, Nguyen required constant care, including a permanent feeding tube, the lawsuit stated, and was facing “permanent mental and physical impairment.”
Nguyen’s family had settled their lawsuit with Kim and Meeker in June 2021, with each agreeing to pay $1 million, CBS Denver reported.
In a statement following the news of Kim and Meeker’s charges, the family said that they are thankful to be “finally getting justice for Emmalyn.”
“Even though it will never bring our daughter back, at least this will help others from getting hurt and prevent ruining other families’ lives,” her parents said, according to CBS News. “We still haven’t been able to get closure from Emmalyn’s death. Hopefully bringing criminal charges will bring out the truth about what happened and will bring justice for Emmalyn.”
So incredibly sad.