Two years after Kaiser Permanente transplant surgeon Hootan Roozrokh allegedly tried to kill a patient in order to harvest his organs, the doctor is finally about to face his accusers in court. In 2006, San Luis Obisbo resident Ruben Navarro was languishing in a coma, and doctors determined that although was not brain dead, his brain had suffered irreversible damage. The Oakland-based California Transplant Donor Network flew Roozrokh and his support team down south, where he prepared to salvage the patient's organs. But when the patient kept lingering on the edge of death, prosecutors alleged, Roozrokh ordered his nurse to administer lethal doses of morphine in order to finish him off. "Let's just give him some more candy," he said, according to an account in the LA Times.
But according to Sarah Arnquist, who is covering the imminent trial for the healthcareblog.com, prosecutors may have a tougher time convicting Roozrokh than they thought. First, the judge dismissed all but one charge in the case. In addition, no one has ever brought charges like this before a doctor before, and the medical community around the country is watching the case closely. Questions of whether the doc was just easing the patient's suffering or speeding his death along will involve mountains of expert testimony, and there may be no clear-cut answer at the end of the day. Finally, Roozrokh's attorney is none other than Gerald Schwartzbach, who miraculously convinced a jury to acquit Baretta star Robert Blake of murder charges.