Man Left Brain Damaged After Doctor Allegedly Abandons Man's Open-Heart Surgery


After the physician's assistant, who was not named in the report, closed the patient, another person, also not named, noticed that Perez continued to bleed from his chest, according to the health department's report. By phone, Chaudhry ordered staff to administer blood products, the report said.

Then, the patient's heart began to quiver, and he went into cardiac arrest, according to the report. The physician's assistant rushed to the operating room to reopen the patient's chest and manually massage the heart, but that didn't work. The physician's assistant and another general surgeon tried to restart a bypass, but they couldn't insert the hollow tubes into the patient's heart, according to the report.

About 45 minutes after the patient "coded," the cardiologist returned to the hospital and successfully inserted the tubes to restart the full heart bypass machine, according to the report. The patient continued to bleed heavily and was placed on a machine that oxygenates the blood, called an ECMO, several hours later. The patient was transferred to the cardiovascular intensive care unit that evening, according to the report.

When Arteaga visited his father, his chest remained open in case something else went wrong, he said. He was also experiencing complications with his kidneys and bile production, he said.

"It looked like somebody put a clear piece of tape over his chest," Arteaga said. "He was like that, I want to say, for a couple of days."

Although Perez's body gradually healed, his brain did not, Arteaga said.

"He never regained consciousness," Arteaga said. "He never spoke, never really moved."

Perez has been in an acute care facility since he was released from the hospital.

According to the health department's investigative report, prompted by an anonymous call on April 11, 2012, the unnamed cardiologist was given a 14-day medical staff suspension. His surgeries also were monitored for two months by the hospital's patient safety department.

On Dec. 23, Arteaga and his mother filed a lawsuit against Fresno Community Regional Medical Center, Chaudhry and Valley Cardiac Surgery Medical Group, of which Chaudhry is a part. They are asking for unspecified damages.

In an interview with the California Department of Public Health as part of its investigation, the unnamed doctor said he let the physician's assistant do the closure to give her extra practice, even though it was above her hospital privileges, according to the report.

Chaudhry and the Valley Cardiac Surgery Medical Group have not yet been served with the lawsuit, but they've seen news reports containing the accusations against them, the medical group's chief operating officer, Bruce Eliason, said in a statement last Friday.

"The assertion is being made that Dr. Chaudhry left the operating room prior to the patient's chest being closed and before the patient was in a stable condition," Eliason said in the statement. "This assertion, apparently made anonymously to the patient's family, is unequivocally false, and it will be proven so."

"Dr. Chaudhry's patient underwent a complex cardiac surgery, and he suffered one of the known complications," Eliason said. "The patient and his family have obviously suffered greatly as a result. Dr. Chaudhry and Valley Cardiac Surgery Medical Group recognize this and have only the deepest sympathies for the continuing issues he has suffered."

Fresno Community Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell said the hospital was surprised to hear that the family said it was left in the dark regarding surgery details.

"The medical record documents multiple times that surgeons talked with family immediately following stages in the surgery," Russell said in an emailed statement to

She said the hospital has added improved safeguards since then.

"The very unfortunate patient outcome, which occurred in April 2012, immediately prompted some tighter operating-room procedures at Community Regional Medical Center," Russell said. "Those procedures have long since been approved by the state. We are surprised now, however, to hear of a civil lawsuit by family members, more than 20 months later."

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