May 30, 2024

Doctor cleared in California transplant case

Jury calls for clearer guidelines for donation after cardiac death

Dr. Hootan C. RoozrokhA California
transplant surgeon has been cleared of intentional harm after an
intellectually-disabled man whose organs he wanted to harvest died.
Iranian-born Dr Hootan C. Roozrokh was charged after a transplant
failed in February 2006 in a San Luis Obispo hospital. It was a very
complex case and the doctor was eventually charged with abuse of a
dependent adult, after two other charges — administering harmful
substances and unlawful prescription — were dropped. His lawyer
successfully argued that Dr Roozrokh “had been trying to ease the
patient’s suffering after other doctors failed to perform their
duties. “Dr Roozrokh was put in an untenable situation where he
could have walked out,” the lawyer said, “but had he walked out,
there was no one there to care for Ruben.”

The problem arose
because Dr Roozrokh wanted to remove the heart of 25-year-old Ruben
Navarro after it had stopped beating. However, quite unexpectedly,
his heart did not stop. The doctor’s intentions and what doses of
medicines he administered in this situation were the main issues.

The verdict –
which took the jury two days to reach — was greeted with relief by
American transplant surgeons who are well aware of the thin line
between killing a patient and allowing him to die. The the jury
issued a statement with its verdict which said that there was a
“desperate need” for clear policy on cardiac death donations. ~
York Times, Dec 18