On December 8, 1994, 23-year-old Magdalena Rodriguez went to Suresh Gandotra's clinic, El Norte Clinica Medica, for what she thought was a safe, legal second-trimester abortion. Gandotra later said, "I knew I screwed up," when he pulled out bowel instead of fetal parts.
Gandotra called a
hospital and asked for directions to send Magdalena there by car. The
staff at the hospital insisted that Magdalena should be transported by
ambulance. They began to assemble an expert team for the expected
In the mean time,
Gandotra left Magdalena unattended while he did abortions on other
patients. After a half-hour delay, he finally called an ambulance, but
did not inform them of the hospital that was awaiting her arrival with a
team ready to treat her.
When the ambulance crew arrived, they found
Magdalena in ventricular fibrillation, with no pulse, bleeding, and on
the floor. The ambulance crew was not informed about the hospital that
was awaiting this critically injured patient, so they took Magdalena to
another hospital, one that was not prepared to treat a patient with her
Magdalena to the hospital without a medical history or any information
about her condition or what he'd done to her. The staff were totally
unprepared for what they found when they examined her. Magdalena had no
vitals on arrival at hospital. She was unresponsive with fixed, dilated
When the surgeon
at the hospital opened Magdalena's peritoneum, it was so distended with
blood that the operating room was spattered with the escaping blood.
Magdalena's uterus was ruptured, with a fetal limb protruding into her
abdomen. Her cervix, uterus, bladder, and colon were lacerated. The
mangled and partially dismembered fetus was of approximately 30 weeks gestation.
As the autopsy describes the unborn child, "the body of the baby was not complete
when autopsied. Both arms had been cut off; the heart, lungs, liver, and
other organs had been cut out, the front of the chest and abdomen were
missing, the right femur was fractured, the head was intact except for
an area on the scalp which had been taken off from the back of the
Magdalena bled to death
during surgery. Her death was attributed to "complications of the acute
pelvic injuries which consisted of lacerations of the lower uterus,
vagina, bladder and colon."
Gandotra told the
medical board that he had delayed calling an ambulance because he had
no admitting privileges and that the patient had asked to be released so
she could walk home. Gandotra's attorney said, "We don't believe this
was blow the standard of care nor do we believe it was malpractice." A
nurse at the hospital that tried to save Magdalena's life said, "I've
never seen anything like this before and I don't want to again."