According to police, the Los Angeles County coroner pushed for an investigation, and finally got it. The coroner believes that the anesthesiologist issued a deadly dose of fentanyl to an 8-year-old boy who was gravely insured after he went into cardiac arrest in 2013 due to a near drowning in a washing machine. He was removed from life support at the Ronald Reagan UcLA Medical center.
The coroner believes the massive dose was given to the boy in order to hasten his death so that his organs would still be healthy to harvest and would lack much deterioration.
At first, the medical examiner at the time only listed a near drowning and fragile X syndrome (genetic abnormality) as the causes of death. However, once it came to the autopsy, coroner’s investigator Denise Bertone had questions about why the boy was given large doses of the painkiller and pushed for a re-examination until “fentanyl toxicity” was finally added as a significant cause of death.
Fox News reports:
Bertone’s allegation is outlined in a whistleblower lawsuit she filed last month claiming she suffered work retaliation for raising questions. The county has yet to respond to the suit in court.
The allegation is “factually wrong and patently offensive,” a lawyer for the anesthesiologist, Dr. Judith Brill, said in an email to the Times.
Attorney Mark Werksman wrote that Brill’s “only concern was to assure that this child, who had drowned and was never going to recover, would not suffer any pain following the removal of life support.”
Brill, 65, is a professor emeritus of clinical anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at UCLA.
“As you can imagine, this is very complicated,” said Capt. William Hayes, who is in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division. “We need to clearly understand what was done and the implications of those actions.”
The lawsuit does not name the child, but the Times said Bertone confirmed in an interview that he was Cole Hartman of Castaic.
According to the coroner’s report and a 911 recording, his father came in from mowing the lawn on July 31, 2013, and found Cole headfirst in a running washing machine. His parents estimated he could have been underwater for up to 25 minutes.
Paramedics got his heart restarted and he was driven by ambulance to a hospital and later flown by helicopter to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Physicians told Cole’s family that he was not brain-dead but “would never recover normal neuro function and . could never awaken,” according to an entry on his medical chart.
His parents decided to take him off life support and donate his organs.
The process required organ harvesting to wait until a ventilator was removed and Cole’s heart stopped beating on its own, a procedure known as donation after cardiac death. The process has time constraints because organs can begin deteriorating immediately, some becoming unsuitable for transplantation after 30 minutes.
After Cole’s ventilator was removed (10:40am) his heart stopped beating just 19 minutes later, and then was declared dead four minutes after the.
Bertone claims in her lawsuit though that the boy “continued to gasp for air” until Brill administered fentanyl “with the purpose of inducing his death.”