PA doctor on trial after girl's throat catches on fire during surgery

David Yates Apr. 9, 2007, 11:00am

Ron Rainey

A Port Arthur doctor is on trial for malpractice this week in a strange case that involves a girl's throat bursting into flames during surgery.

Jurors will decide if Dr. Nabil Ghabrial demonstrated negligence while performing throat surgery on the 6-year-old daughter of plaintiffs Dale and Miranda Granger. Judge Donald Floyd is presiding over the case in the Jefferson County 172nd District Court.

According to the plaintiffs' original petition, which was filed in the Jefferson County District Court on Dec. 5, 2002, the girl underwent surgery on Dec. 18, 2000, for a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, direct laryngoscopy and rigid bronchoscopy.

During the procedure, the girl's throat literally caught on fire. The fire began when a medical machine similar to a soldering iron either pierced the plastic tube inside the girl's throat, or the device sparked and ignited with oxygen leaking from the tube.

Medical records and expert testimony provided by both the defendant and plaintiff indicated the team performing the operation responded immediately, dousing the fire before it caused serious harm.

Medical records and doctors notes submitted as evidence stated that the girl suffered from "mild hoarseness" after the surgery, but that she would recover 99 percent of her voice, making further surgery not necessary.

The couple is suing for medical expenses, pain, the loss of enjoyment of life, lost earning capacity and the mental anguish imposed on their daughter.

Dale Granger testified that his daughter has become increasingly self-conscious since the surgery, saying the kids at school used to tease her for having a raspy voice and that she must now drink a fluid while eating her meals.

"She thinks someone is always watching her," Dale Granger said.

He also testified that his daughter has many friends and enjoys a vigorous school life.

The petition originally listed the Port Arthur Day Surgery clinic, the Golden Triangle Anesthesia Group and Doctors Don Duplan and Ghabrial as defendants but was later amending to solely fault Ghabrial.

The Grangers are represented by Houston attorney Ron Rainey of Richard Haynes & Associates.

Attorney John Marshall represents Ghabrial.

The trial will resume Tuesday.

Case No. E168-679

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