Michael Kamrava sat quietly in a Los Angeles courtroom during closing hearings in his fight to keep his license and career as sparring attorneys sketched competing pictures of the fertility doctor.
Kamrava’s poor decision-making is dangerous and his license must be revoked, state deputy attorney general Judith Alvarado said Thursday. She continued that he conducted fertility experiments on unwitting human subjects, and wrongly bowed to outlandish demands of “Octomom” Nadya Suleman by implanting 12 embryos.
But Kamrava’s lawyer Henry Fenton said the well-respected physician with 30 years of experience faced the perfect storm when Suleman didn’t allow him to freeze or destroy her embryos, insisted on having 12 implanted and then disappeared so that no fetal reduction could be performed. Fenton said Kamrava didn’t violate guidelines any more than other doctors in the field might, and has reformed his ways.
Ultimately, the Medical Board of California will have to decide which description of Kamrava is closer to the truth, and whether to allow Californians to continue to be treated by the man whose fertility treatment resulted in the birth of the world’s only living set of octuplets.
The board is seeking to revoke the doctor’s license, alleging gross negligence in his treatment of Suleman and two other patients.
The octuplets surprised everyone — even doctors at the Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center where the babies were born in January 2009 were only expecting septuplets.
During the hearing, Kamrava testified that he’d tried to contact Suleman to follow up after implanting her with 12 embryos, and that he only learned of the record-setting multiple birth after Suleman had delivered.
Kamrava tearfully apologized for implanting her with so many embryos — six times the norm for a woman her age — but said he felt like he didn’t have a choice. Suleman wouldn’t consent to having her embryos frozen, transferred to another patient or destroyed, he said.
In testimony Thursday, Nov. 18, Kamrava said Suleman knew she was part of a study on fertility methods because she volunteered for it, but Alvarado said there were no signed forms acknowledging that she was involved with an experimental procedure.
After closing arguments, Kamrava’s lawyer Henry Fenton told reporters it was untrue that Suleman submitted to the study without her knowledge and “there’s nothing experimental about it.”
Under federal regulation, patients must give their informed consent before being involved in medical studies. Typically, patients sign forms saying they understand the possible impact, procedures and duration of the study.
Kamrava is also accused of implanting seven embryos in a 48-year-old patient, resulting in quadruplets, but one fetus died before birth.
In another case, Kamrava is accused of going ahead with in vitro fertilization when he should have waited for a patient to be screened for cancer. She was later diagnosed with stage-three cancer and had to have her uterus and ovaries removed before undergoing chemotherapy.
Judge Daniel Juarez has 60 days to draft an opinion to submit to the Medical Board of California for consideration. The board then has 90 days to decide whether to let Kamrava keep practicing or dole out some other form of punishment. TAS