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Octuplet mom's doctor faces license revocation hearing

By Alan Duke, CNN
The birth of Nadya Suleman's octuplets last year caused a media firestorm. Now her doctor faces a license hearing.
The birth of Nadya Suleman's octuplets last year caused a media firestorm. Now her doctor faces a license hearing.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Suleman has 29 embryos she could still use
  • Medical board says doctor placed a dozen embryos in Nadya Suleman
  • Doctor was allegedly "grossly negligent" in treating Suleman
  • Suleman already had six children when she gave birth to octuplets

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- A California fertility doctor implanted a dozen embryos in Nadya Suleman, resulting in "an unsafe octuplet delivery" last year, a lawyer for the state's medical board said Monday.

Dr. Michael Kamrava, the fertility doctor who treated Suleman beginning in 1997, appeared before an administrative law judge Monday for a hearing that could lead to the loss of his medical license.

Kamrava "will say she demanded all 12 embryos and, because it was the weekend, he did not know what to do," said California Deputy Attorney General Judith Alvarado. "But he knew it was unsafe."

Suleman -- known in the media as "Octomom" -- was 33 years old when she gave birth to eight babies in January 2009. She was a single woman who already had six young children conceived through in-vitro fertilization administered by Kamrava.

She still has 29 frozen embryos in storage available for her use should she want more children, according to a witness who testified Monday.

His lawyer argued that Kamrava has been "a respected, excellent physician and surgeon for 25 years," but that he "ran into sort of a perfect storm with one of his patients."

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Dr. Victor Fujimoto, an expert witness called by the medical board on Monday, testified that Suleman apparently asked Kamrava to implant a dozen embryos in July 2008.

"As I understand, she requested it," Fujimoto said.

When Alvarado asked him if it is not a doctor's responsibility to protect a patient from themselves, he answered "Sometimes."

The Medical Board of California's complaint said the doctor should have referred Suleman to a mental health physician after she repeatedly returned to him for treatments shortly after each of her pregnancies.

"The whole series of contacts raise red flags with the stability of the patient herself and the overall intent of the patient," said Fujimoto.

Kamrava was expelled from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine last year for what the fertility medical society called "a pattern of behavior that violated the group's standards."

The society recommends implanting no more than two embryos for women under 35 years old and no more than five for women over 40 -- who have more trouble getting pregnant -- according to guidelines published on its website.

"Because of what's happened, he does now adhere strictly to these guidelines," defense lawyer Henry Fenton told the judge Monday.

Fujimoto testified that Kamrava's implantation of 12 embryos in July 2008 was "gross negligence."

"I cannot imagine any colleague of mine transferring that many," he said

Giving birth to extreme multiples comes with tremendous risks for the mother and the babies, including "complications with pregnancy, prematurity and long-term consequences of that."

Suleman's children -- six boys and two girls born nine weeks premature -- all went home after an extended stay in the hospital.

While there has been no indication any problems have emerged, "we still don't know," Fujimoto said.

Kamrava, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Beverly Hills, California, is accused of gross negligence and repeated negligent acts in the treatment of a patient named in the medical board complaint only by her initials, N.S.

Suleman has identified Kamrava as her doctor in interviews.

He is also accused of negligence in another case in which a patient developed a "quadruplet pregnancy that was rocked with complications," according to the medical board.

 
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