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Plastic Surgeon Faces Criminal Charges After Surgery Led To Woman’s Death

Prior to his arrest, the Colorado Medical Board found Dr. Geoffrey Kim waited nearly six hours to call 911 after 18-year-old Emmalyn Nguyen went into cardiac arrest on the operating table. 

By Jax Miller
Dr Geoffrey Kim Pd

A plastic surgeon in Colorado is facing criminal charges after one of his patients died as a result of a botched procedure.

Dr. Geoffrey Kim, 52, surrendered to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday after authorities obtained a warrant for his arrest on charges of first-degree aggravated assault and criminally negligent homicide related to the death of Emmalyn Nguyen, 18, according to their statement.

Nguyen died 14 months after Kim attempted to perform a routine breast augmentation in 2019 during which she stopped breathing.

“We opened this criminal case in 2019,” said Travis Stewart, Captain of Investigations. “The investigation has taken more than two years to complete and involved dozens of interviews and search warrants. Our hope is that this will be the beginning of bringing justice and a sense of closure to Emmalyn’s family.”

On Aug. 1, 2019, Nguyen of Thornton, Colorado, underwent surgery at Kim’s Greenwood Village office, according to CBS Denver. Soon after she received anesthesia, Nguyen went into cardiac arrest. Although Nguyen was resuscitated, she was left with permanent brain damage and never regained the ability to speak or walk.

“It appears that Emmalyn stopped breathing because of improper anesthesia, administered by a nurse instead of an anesthesiologist,” David Woodruff, the attorney representing Nguyen’s parents, told People in 2019. “But the worst thing is she appears to have been left unattended, not breathing, for up to 15 minutes. It caused her to suffer a massive anoxic brain injury.”

The teen was left “in a permanent semi-conscious state,” a lawsuit filed against medical workers before her death said. For 14 months she survived after the surgery, Nguyen required 24/7 care. Nguyen contracted a severe case of pneumonia that caused her to go into cardiac arrest on Oct. 2, 2020, according to CBS, and died two days later.

The Colorado Medical Board suspended Kim’s license as a result of the case on Jan. 9, 2020, when they found reason to believe Kim was “guilty of a deliberate and willful violation of the Medical Practice Act,” according to Fox affiliate KDVR News. The Board claimed that “despite requests by other healthcare providers present in the operating room, Respondent failed to contact emergency personnel to transport the patient to the hospital for nearly six hours.”

Arapahoe authorities have also issued a warrant for the arrest of Rex Meeker, a nurse anesthetist, on manslaughter charges but he has not yet been detained by authorities, according to Wednesday’s statement. He was named in the 2019 lawsuit filed by Nguyen’s parents with the Boulder County Court.

“CRNA Rex Meeker maintains that, contrary to claims in the lawsuit and those being made in the media, the complications in Ms. Nguyen’s surgery were not related to inappropriate care on his behalf,” his lawyer told People in 2019. “He denies claims that he did not appropriately monitor or provide reasonable anesthetic care to Ms. Nguyen. While unfortunate, Mr. Meeker is confident that through litigation, the evidence will show that the injuries sustained were not the result of inappropriate care by him.”

According to the sheriff’s office, Kim was accompanied by his attorney when he turned himself in. He was released after posting bond. 

Oxygen.com reached out to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

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