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Oregon doctor charged with manslaughter after friend dies from tummy tuck procedure

Dr. Soraya Abbassian faces charges stemming from allegations that employees she operated on either died or suffered complications. KOIN

(CBS News) A Portland doctor is facing charges after one of her patients, who happened to be her employee and friend, died from an after-hours tummy tuck procedure. Another employee who went under her knife also reported concerning health conditions after her surgery.

Dr. Soraya Abbassian, who was licensed in internal medicine and not in surgery, has plead not guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter and one count of reckless endangering, according to CBS affiliate KOIN in Portland, Ore. Her medical license has since been suspended by the Oregon State Medical Board.

Board records state Abbassian performed surgery on Judith Ann DesMarets - a hospice nurse at Abbassian's Northeast Portland - without a medical staff at 10 p.m. on Dec.15, 2010, OregonLive reported. Abbassian herself administered a local anesthesia into the patient's abdomen. That's when DesMarets began complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath. DesMarets then had a seizure and became unconscious.

Abbassian performed 15 chest compressions but soon called 911. She admitted to dispatchers that she did not have the necessary equipment in case of a medical emergency and did not have any medication to counteract an allergic reaction or overdose of anesthesia. DesMarets died four days later at Portland Adventist Medical Center, from a brain injury due to lack of oxygen and complications from anesthesia use.

A second woman who underwent a procedure between July 2010 and September 2010 with Abbassian reported experiencing dizziness and a rapid heartbeat afterward, OregonLive said.

The state has alleged that Abbassian "failed to conduct an appropriate and sufficient medical evaluation" in the manslaughter case and caused "substantial risk" in the reckless endangering case, according to KOIN. They also found that Abbassian had performed other treatments on other employees and often prescribed medications to employees and their family members without keeping accurate records, OregonLive reported. As payment, she was given money and employees offered to do chores for her, such as babysitting, running household errands or driving her and her family around. The doctor also performed surgical procedures on herself.

Abbassian was arraigned on Aug. 28 in Multnomah County Circuit Court and was released on $50,000 bail. She will be allowed to live in Pennsylvania while the investigation is ongoing.

Oregon State Medical Board executive director Kathleen Haley told KOIN that the case is "very unfortunate and rare," adding that in the last 18 years this is only the second time something similar to this has happened in Oregon.

"The essence was she was really trying to help people, and do it as a friend, but obviously, one has to have professional judgment and training for this sort of thing," Haley said to OregonLive.