A Texas jury has awarded over $20 million to the family of a man who is currently in a vegetative state after what was supposed to be routine leg surgery.
The family of Carlos David Castro Rojas, who was 27 years old at the time of the procedure, will receive $21 million in restitution after a Dallas jury determined that a botched anesthesia procedure put Rojas into a vegetative state for the rest of his life, KDFW-TV reported.
Rojas, who immigrated to the United States from Venezuela, broke his leg in 2017 after falling off a ladder while at work hanging Christmas tree lights.
Rojas was admitted to Baylor University Medical Center for a surgery to repair his fractured left tibia. The procedure was only expected to take 2 hours.
“The day before, he told me, ‘no mom, it’s just my knee, and it is a simple operation,’” Rojas’s mother, Wilda, told the jury in a video.
However, Rojas suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a brain injury that stems from a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain. He did not wake up after the procedure.
“It appears he suffered low blood pressure during the course of his procedure cutting off oxygen to his brain,” Bruce Steckler, attorney for the Rojas family, said. “When you don’t have blood to your brain, it dies.”
The Rojas family’s lawsuit states that his condition worsened while his doctor was supervising four registered nurse anesthetists, known as CRNAs, who were with other patients at the same time.
“As a result, it is our position while that may be good business for Anesthesia Partners, it is not good medicine, because there is no way an anesthesiologist can supervise that many CRNAs at one time,” Steckler said.
“I think patients need to be apprised up front that they have a choice to get an anesthesiologist who has 4 years of medical school, 3 years of training and board certified, rather than a CRNA who may have a nursing degree and extra year of training.”
U.S. Anesthesia Partners of Texas, who employed the doctor and CRNAs who performed the surgery, defended their team in a statement to KDFW-TV.
“We received the jury’s verdict, and while we respect the civil justice system, we believe strongly that our clinicians provided the patient with excellent care,” the statement said.
Rojas’ mother said that she refused to take her son off life support despite being urged to do so. Rojas will need 24-hour care for the rest of his life and was reportedly left with the mental capacity of a 1-year-old, but still noticeably expresses joy when in the presence of his mother.
“I will take care of my son,” she said. “He was everything to me.”