Man left in vegetative state after hospital's mistake awarded $33m

A 27-year-old man left in a vegetative state after leg surgery gone wrong, has been awarded A$33 million in damages five years after the operation.

Carlos David Castro Rojas, who moved from Venezuela to the United States, was hanging Christmas lights to make some extra cash while studying engineering, when he fell off the ladder.

Sustaining a fractured shin, he went to a hospital in Dallas for surgery on October 11, 2017, telling his mum it's just "a simple operation," Fox4 reports.

A photo of Carlos David Castro Rojas in hospital after his procedure, and another photo of him smiling.
Carlos David Castro Rojas was left in a life-shattering state after a leg procedure in Dallas, winning $33 million in damages at court. Source: Fox4

However due to experiencing hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy — a lack of oxygen to the brain — during the two-hour procedure, he wasn't waking up when it was complete. "When you don't have blood to your brain, it dies," his attorney, Bruce Steckler told Fox4.

When Mr Rojas' blood pressure dropped which led to the oxygen cutoff, his doctor was busy supervising four registered nurse anaesthetists, who had their own patients, Fox4 said according to the court case.

For the last five years, Mr Rojas has not been able to communicate, move properly, do essential things like clean and feed himself, and requires 24-hour care.

'He was everything to me'

His mum, Wilda Rojas, who fought to keep him on life support after the procedure, is his carer. "I will take care of my son," she told Fox4. "He was everything to me."

She also sadly pointed out that her son said he would be the one to take care of her when he finished his engineering degree. "He told me mummy you're not going to work anymore, I will be the one to support you," she said to the publication.

In response to the $33 million ($US21m) verdict, Ms Rojas said it won't be able to bring back her son to how he used to be, but she hopes it will make a difference to the lives of other patients and families, according to Fox4.

The company who employed the medical staff at the hospital, US Anesthesia Partners of Texas, disclosed they did not think the verdict was fair, in a statement to the publication.

"We received the jury's verdict, and while we respect the civil justice system, we believe strongly our clinicians provided the patient with excellent care," the company's attorney said.

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