The Colorado plastic surgeon charged in the death of a teenage patient after a failed breast augmentation surgery was acquitted of negligent homicide but convicted on lesser charges on Wednesday.
Background: Emmalyn Nguyen, then 18, visited Dr. Geoffrey Kim’s clinic in Greenwood Village on Aug. 1, 2019, for breast augmentation. After receiving anesthesia, she suffered two cardiac arrests, fell into a coma and died in October 2020 at the age of 19.
The allegations: Kim was accused of failing to call for help until five hours after Nguyen suffered the cardiac arrests. But his attorneys blamed Rex Meeker — the nurse anesthetist at the time — for giving the teenager dangerous drugs prior to the surgery and overdosing her with fentanyl, which ultimately stopped her heart.
The verdict: A jury acquitted Kim of negligent homicide on Wednesday. However, he was convicted on lesser charges of attempted reckless manslaughter and obstruction of telephone services.
About the nurse anesthetist: Meeker, who was also charged with homicide and manslaughter, saw both counts dropped in September 2022 in light of new evidence. It was determined that he and other staff members made multiple attempts to call 911, but it was Kim’s initial refusal that dragged the situation out for hours.
“Dr. Kim’s conduct was intentional, at least from the family’s perspective,” David Woodruff, who represented Nguyen’s family, told 9News. “Because he knew the office wanted to call 911 and yet he intentionally instructed them not to do that for whatever reason, and so the family’s emotional response to everything that happened to their daughter has really been focused on Dr. Kim.”
Nguyen’s mother, Lynn Fam, told CBS Denver in 2019: “[Dr. Kim] said everything is fine, Emmalyn is fine, everything is good. She’s young, she’s healthy, she’ll be OK, it’s just taking her long to wake up.”
What’s next: Kim faces one to three years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 8.