Parents of a two-year-old girl who died in an operating room after doctors at John Muir Health allegedly ignored warnings that they were not equipped to perform her specialist surgery have filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Hospital.
Tom and Truc-Co Jung’s daughter, Ailee, was diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy treatment when she underwent a complicated procedure known as liver resection surgery at John Muir Health in November 2019.
Hours after her parents said goodbye to her while she was under anesthesia, Ailee’s heart suddenly stopped and she died in the operating room.
A survey conducted by the San Francisco Chronicle found John Muir’s top executives reportedly dismissed warnings that the hospital was not properly equipped to perform liver resection surgery on a child in the weeks leading up to the operation.
John Muir Health said the Chronicle which Ailee was frail due to her cancer and chemotherapy treatment, and they “provided extraordinary care”.
In a statement, John Muir CEO Cal Knight said: “Life-saving procedures on extremely ill patients are not always successful.
“This fact is most tragic when the patient is so young.”
The Independent approached John Muir Health for comment and attempted to contact the Jongs, who are parents to two other children.
Legal documents filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court have raised questions about whether the hospital disclosed key details to the family before the surgery.
The lawsuit alleges that John Muir Health had not performed the specialist surgery on a child before and that the anesthesiologist involved had only recently completed fellowships in pediatric anesthesiology.
John Muir’s former medical director, Dr Alicia Kalamas, has raised concerns about Ailee’s death in surgery, according to the lawsuit.
John Muir Health disputed Dr. Kalamas’ assessment. She has since filed a lawsuit against the hospital after her contract was not renewed, alleging retaliation for raising patient safety concerns.
Tom Jong said the Chronicle : “If I had known that someone in the hospital had concerns about their ability to do this surgery, there’s no way I would have done it.”
Speaking to the Helping Parents Heal website, Ailee’s parents explained that her heart suddenly stopped while she was in surgery and no one could explain what happened.
“We needed answers, so we immediately started looking into everything about his cancer and everything about the afterlife.”
An investigation into Ailee’s death by the California Department of Public Health found no federal or state laws were violated, the Chronicle reported.