Nevada doctor sentenced to life over hepatitis outbreak
Some of the victims were Pinoys
LAS VEGAS - Former Las Vegas endoscopy owner Dipak Desai was found guilty in 27 criminal charges, including a second-degree murder, in the 2007 Southern Nevada viral outbreak, one of the largest in the United States.
Officials traced the outbreak to Desai's clinics.
In 2007, 40,000 Nevadans were contacted by the Southern Nevada Health District that they may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis after a surgical procedure at the endoscopy center Desai used to own.
The transmission of hepatitis and HIV from one patient to another is through the re-use of the same syringe and multi-use vials of anesthesia injected into the patient’s IV.
Although the needle is new for the next patient, the use of the same syringe and the same vials from previous patients could be the means of carrying the disease.
Dr. Noel Fajardo, the only Fil-Am gastroenterologist in southern Nevada said that there are significant number of Pinoy patients who went to Desai's clinic at the time of the viral outbreak.
"The practice of Dr. Depak Desai is composed of 16 gastroenterologist so it's the biggest practice in Las Vegas back then, so majority of the Filipinos were sent to their practice so as percentage wise I would say a lot of Filipinos were sent there. Since they're the only big practice during that time," said Dr. Fajardo.
A Filipino, who declined to be identified, said that she contracted Hepatitis-C during her trip to Desai's clinic.
"My children knows and they felt so bad they cried everyday. I have to face it. I can't do anything about it, Asawa ko di makatulog gabi-gabi ako lagi ang iniisip nya, sabi ko i don’t know when my time is up,” she said.
After six years of argument and some delays in trial, members of the jury at the Clark County District Court found Desai guilty of 27 criminal charges, including second degree murder. This is believed to be one of the largest viral outbreaks in the nation.
One of Desai's convictions is the death of 77-year old retired Philippine Army Colonel Rodolfo Maena in April of 2012. Authorities report that Maena was the second person infected in the viral outbreak case.
Desai now faces lifetime imprisonment, with eligibility for parole after having served 18 years in Nevada prison.
Dr. Fajardo said that although Desai made an extreme negative impact to the medical community in terms of standard of care, he assures patients that getting a colonoscopy is safe and will be beneficial for early detection of colon cancer.