DeKalb County

Jury orders Emory Healthcare to pay metro mom nearly $40M after son dies during heart transplant

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A DeKalb County jury has ordered Emory University Hospital to pay a Georgia mother more than $30 million.

That amount is one of the highest figures the hospital has ever had to pay for a medical malpractice case.

Attorneys say medical staff overlooked a critical scan that could have saved the life of that woman’s 20-year-old son who was undergoing a heart transplant.

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Channel 2 investigative reporter Ashli Lincoln spoke with both sides about the monumental judgment.

“The jury’s verdict was $38.6 million,” attorney Lee Gutschenritter said. “After the verdict, she says, ‘Lee, this is the first time in 6 years where I have closure for my son’s death.”

Gutschenritter said his client Barbra Brown was overwhelmed with emotions about the settlement and asked that Gutschenritter speak on her behalf.

“We’ve been told this is the largest verdict ever against Emory,” Gutschenritter said.

The judgment comes after a 5-year long civil case against Emory Healthcare Incorporated.

Brown’s 20-year-old son died while undergoing a heart transplant in 2017.

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“He was a good kid. He cared about people,” Gutschenritter said. “Trevon lost two-thirds of the blood that was in his body, quickly.”

The lawsuit said the medical team failed to do a chest CT scan to check for any scar tissue or particles because Trevon had a medical heart pump due to living with congestive heart failure.

In 2016, doctors discovered Trevon had been living with a dormant virus that attacked and destroyed his heart.

“If they would have the simple pre-operative chest CT, they would have seen he had a critical structure stuck to the back of the chest,” Gutschenritter said.

Attorneys said their medical experts from Harvard University reviewed the case and determined if the CT scan was done, Trevon could still be alive.

“He left the operating room on life support, and he remained on life support for six weeks until he passed away on Christmas Day,” Gutschenritter said.

Gutschenritter said Emory’s attorneys argued in court that it’s not a standard practice for them to use a chest CT.

Lincoln reached out to Emory for comment about this story. They sent her a statement, saying:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time. We will continue our mission of providing high-quality, compassionate care to all patients who come to our facilities. We appreciate the dedication and commitment of our many care teams across our health system.”

“I think she is so grateful to the jury that they agreed with her, and they got justice for her son,” Gutschenritter said.

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