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Colorado plastic surgeon arrested, charged for death of 19-year-old patient

The patient died after going into cardiac arrest and falling into a coma.
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Posted at 9:13 AM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 11:13:00-05

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — A plastic surgeon in Colorado has been arrested in connection to the death of one of his patients.

On Aug. 1, 2019, Emmalyn Nguyen, who was 18 at the time, underwent breast augmentation surgery at Colorado Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery in Greenwood Village.

After she was administered anesthesia, she went into cardiac arrest, according to the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.

She fell into a coma and died 14 months later.

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Following a criminal investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for Dr. Geoffrey Kim, 52.

He turned himself in to authorities Wednesday while accompanied by his attorney.

Kim faces two felony criminal charges: first-degree aggravated assault and criminally negligent homicide.

He was booked and released after posting bond.

According to a lawsuit filed by Nguyen's family, she was left unattended for about 15 minutes after Rex Meeker, the nurse anesthetist, administered the anesthesia.

The lawsuit states that standard care for anesthesia requires a qualified staff member's ongoing presence to monitor vital signs.

"She was found by a different nurse in cardiac arrest," David Woodruff, attorney for the family, told Denver7 in October 2020.

The suit details that Nguyen's "lips and face were blue" when she was found.

It adds that she went into cardiac arrest twice and was resuscitated both times.

She was also given reversal medication.

"Unfortunately, he [Dr. Kim] then directed staff, it looks like, to not call 911 for close to six hours," Woodruff said.

"You just don't see mistakes like this that are this egregious, not in 20 years of practice."

Nguyen was eventually rushed to Littleton Adventist Hospital, where doctors determined she had a severe anoxic brain injury due to the prolonged cardiac arrest, the lawsuit detailed.

“We opened this criminal case in August 2019. 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,“ said Travis Stewart, Captain of Investigations with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.

Meeker is facing a manslaughter charge in connection to the case, the sheriff's office said.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest, but he is not yet in custody.

This story was first reported by Sydney Isenberg at KMGH in Denver.