HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Friday, July 28, 1995, page 28A


Physician is suspended

by Lydia Sum and Ruth Sorelle

Saying they fear a "serious and immediate threat to public health," Texas Department of Health Officials sought permission Friday to investigate the death of a 5-year-old boy after a circumcision.

Meanwhile, Doctor's Hospital-Airline has suspended the anesthesiologist present during the July 18 circumcision, pending outcome of a peer review investigation and final autopsy of Jeremie Johnson.

The boy died Tuesday after a week in a coma and on life support.

Dr. T. Jose Tovar was suspended July 18, said Doctor's Hospital spokeswoman Jan Haines.

Family members said they brought the boy to the hospital that day for the 30-minute procedure but he stopped breathing afterward and had to be resuscitated.

A secretary for Tovar said the physician declined comment. Haines called the suspension routine in such instances.

Dr. Tovar has had many good years at this hospital," she said. "He has always been in good standing here and many know him in his field."

In Austin, spokeman David Vaughn said TDH officials asked the federal Health Care Finance Administration, which oversees Medicaid payments to find out why the boy died.

The heath department's bureau of heath care quality and standards and the HCFA share responsibility to monitor patients' treatment in Texas hospitals, Vaughn said.

He says he expects the investigation to begin early next week.

The boy's mother, British Gaines, expressed frustration Friday at the lack of explanation as to why he went into a coma.

Preliminary autopsy results only described the boy's medical condition when he was transferred to Texas Children's on July 18, Gaines said. Final results are not expected for another eight weeks.

"It's very sad because I was thinking we'd actually find out something, but there are just these big, medical terms that don't tell us anything we don't already know," said Gaines, 23.

In recent years, fewer boys have been circumcised because of conflicting medical opinion as to its necessity. But in some cases, medical conditions make it necessary.

Gaines said she thought the procedure on her son was successful until Dr. Michael Morris, who performed the circumcision told her the boys heart had stopped and he had resuscitated him.

Johnson was immediately transferred to Texas Children's, where he was in intensive care until his family decided to have him removed from a respirator Tuesday.

Gaines said Morris visited her son at Texas Children's to examine the result of the circumcision. She said Tovar also visited them at Texas Children's on July 18.

He said he was sorry, that he didn't know what happened, and patted me on the back," Gaines said.

Tovar graduated from medical school in Bogota, Colombia, according to the Texas Board of Medical Examiners and has been licensed in the United States since August 15, 1970. Board records show no disciplinary actions against him.


by Lydia Lum and Ruth Sorelle

Autopsy reports may be released today explaining why a 5-year-old boy died this week after a circumcision.

Doctors at Texas Children's Hospital removed Jeremie Johnson from a respirator Tuesday, said Brenda Gaines, the boys great-aunt. He had been in a coma for a week, she said.

Gaines said the ordeal began July 18, when she and his mother, British Gaines took the boy to Doctor's Hospital-Airline for a circumcision. Brenda Gaines said they believed the 30-minute procedure went successfully until a doctor told them the boy's heart had stopped in the operating room shortly after the operation.

The doctors resuscitated the boy and put him on a respirator, Gaines said. He was taken by Life Flight helicopter to Texas Children's she said.

She said the boy never woke up.

"At first we thought he was just sick because he just looked like he was asleep. Brenda Gaines said. "But the doctors said he was cold as ice."

Jeremie remained in intensive care for a week and his mother kept a continuous vigil that resulted in her losing her waitress job, Gaines said. Doctors at Texas Children's hospital had given the boy a 50-50 chance of awakening, she said.

Doctor's Hospital officials are investigating Jeremie's death, according to a statement issued by B. Lee Brown, the hospital administrator.

We offer our deepest condolences to the family of Jeremie Johnson," said B. Lee Brown. "We have begun an in-depth review of the case to learn more about this tragedy. We hope to obtain additional information from Texas Children's Hospital to assist us in our investigation." Doctors Hospital refused further comment. Texas Children's spokeswoman knew little about the boy's case.

(File Revised 15 May 2008)