Tonsil Surgery-Gone-Wrong Not Hospital's First
Rebecca Jimenez left severely brain damaged after similar surgery in 2011
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2013 12:01 PM CST
Jahi McMath was declared brain-dead after routine tonsil surgery this month.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of McMath Family and Omari Sealey)

(Newser) – It turns out Jahi McMath isn't the first case of a tonsillectomy-gone-wrong at Children's Hospital Oakland. Two years ago, Rebecca Jimenez, then 8, went in for a similar tonsil surgery to treat her sleep apnea; now she can't walk or speak because of the severe brain damage she suffered in its aftermath—though unlike Jahi, she does have some brain activity, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Rebecca's parents sued the hospital's anesthesiology unit, surgeon, and anesthesiologist for medical negligence and settled for $4.4 million; a separate settlement with the hospital in that case has not been disclosed.

Though different doctors performed the two surgeries, Jahi's case "is eerily and sadly reminiscent—startlingly so—to what happened to Rebecca," the Jimenez's lawyer said. But there are key differences, too. Doctors labelled Rebecca's surgery "uncomplicated" in contrast to Jahi's "complicated" surgery, which involved the removal of throat and nose tissue. While Jahi began bleeding shortly after surgery, Rebecca was discharged in what her lawyer calls a "constellation of mistakes"; her worried mother was told by a post-op hotline to wait five hours to see if the girl's situation (Rebecca's eyes had rolled back in her head) improved. When she brought Rebecca to the ER, a brain scan discovered severe swelling. In a statement, the hospital noted that "over the course of its 100 years, Children's Hospital & Research Center has successfully cared for tens of thousands of children who have had great outcomes." Click for the latest on Jahi's case.

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Showing 3 of 40 comments
Ezekiel 25:17
Dec 28, 2013 3:37 PM CST
I'm from a family that believes you should hold onto body parts until they root off. So I have my wisdom teeth although a surgeon suggested they come out when I was 15. Being late 40's, I also have had problems with gall bladder. It put me in hospital for three days. I didn't know they no longer remove a "hot" gall bladder. They send you home with an antibiotic script and then have a sonogram in three months. They did that for me and it cleared up. I told the tech that a day after I left hospital, there were items in the toilet that looked like acorns. He thinks I passed them all. So now they won't remove it for sure. I have had tonsil problems through the years but the doc says its not worth the risk removing unless its severely infected.
Winston_Smith
Dec 27, 2013 10:28 PM CST
Either I or my kids have been treated in half a dozen different Bay Area hospitals over the past few years, and Children's Hospital Oakland was by far the worst, I was not surprised AT ALL to hear about this. The media circus is unseemly, but hopefully it will help call attention to what kind of place this is.
OrneryPup
Dec 27, 2013 4:56 PM CST
Let the child die and rest in peace for heavens sake. Hmm, is there a benefit to turning this tragedy into a circus ?