Dr. Hootan Roozrokh of San Francisco has been accused of prescribing excessive drugs to a disabled patient to speed up his death and harvest his organs. The man, 26 year-old Ruben Navarro, died in 2006.
The defendant’s lawyer stated that the charges were “unfounded and ill-advised” and that is client has been subjected to an “18-month witch hunt”.
Roozrokh was charged with felony counts of dependent adult abuse, administering a harmful substance and unlawful controlled substance prescription. If convicted of all three counts, he faces up to eight years in state prison or up to one year in jail and a $20,000 fine as a condition of probation.
Navarro was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in a coma after he suffered respiratory and cardiac arrest in 2006. Navarro had irreversible brain damage, but was not considered brain dead so he was kept on a respirator. The day before Navarro’s death, his family approved the recovery of his organs for donation. This never happened because Navarro did not die within an hour of being taken off life support; the man died a day later.
Prosecutors say that Roozark, who was working on behalf of a group who procures and distributes organs, was prescribing drugs to Navarro to accelerate his death in order to recover his organs. According to state law, it is illegal for a transplant surgeon to be involved in the care of a potential organ donor before they are declared dead.
Last month, his mother, Rosa, filed a wrongful-death and medical malpractice lawsuit against Roozrokh and others, claiming her son was removed from life support without her permission and given lethal doses of drugs.
The coroner’s office determined that Navarro died of natural causes.
For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Medical Malpractice and Negligent Care.