Brighton woman incapacitated after surgical anesthesia dies after 14-month battle

A young Brighton woman, who was incapacitated for more than a year after a breast augmentation surgery allegedly went awry, died last week at a local hospital.

Emmalyn Nguyen, 19, went into cardiac arrest on Oct. 2 at a long-term acute care hospital in Thornton, according to her attorney, David Woodruff. She was resuscitated and transferred to another hospital where she died two days later.

“Her parents were maintaining some hope that their daughter would eventually recover some ability to communicate with them,” Woodruff said. “They were looking to bring her home some day.”

Now, a lawsuit filed on Nguyen’s behalf against a local plastic surgeon and others whose alleged neglect led to her being incapacitated will be amended as a wrongful death lawsuit, Woodruff said.

“To suffer this injury and death for such a common procedure, this should never have happened,” Woodruff said.

On Aug. 1, 2019, Nguyen, “who desired breast augmentation for a better self-image,” underwent anesthesia at the medical office of Colorado Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery in Greenwood Village, according to the lawsuit filed in December 2019.

“After the start of anesthesia, Ms. Nguyen was left unobserved in the operating room,” according to the complaint.

“We don’t know why she was unobserved,” Woodruff said. “But it shouldn’t happen to any patient.”

When staff reentered the operating room, about 15 minutes after the start of anesthesia, “Nguyen’s lips and face were blue” and she had gone into cardiac arrest, according to the lawsuit.

Dr. Geoffrey S. Kim, M.D.; Rex L. Meeker, nurse anesthetist; and Shay Hubert, RN, are named in the original lawsuit.

Kim’s license to practice medicine in Colorado was put on probation, on Feb. 27, for three years by the state medical board.

The medical board’s order found that Kim immediately began CPR on Nguyen, upon reentering the emergency room, but he failed to contact emergency personnel to take Nguyen to a local hospital for about five hours. His conduct was deemed “unprofessional.”

A memorial service was held for Nguyen on Sunday.

“Half the people there were high school kids, classmates who knew and loved her,” Woodruff said. “It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to a girl who had been healthy and vibrant” prior to the anesthesia “and who had the road in front of her.”

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