It's a "Nip/Tuck" episode come horrifyingly to life: Los Angeles gynecologist turned plastic surgeon Dr. Ehab Mohamed operated on 61-year-old Sharon Carpenter Nicholson all day and into the night, only to watch her die on the operating table.
KNX news radio has the latest on the Encino plastic surgeon who was previously probed for charging patients as much as $650,000 per procedure. But overcharging's got nothing on alleged malpractice -- especially when a beloved wife, mother and grandmother, after shelling out $100,000 for a liposuction procedure, ends up paying with her life.
Nicholson's family, who is filing a wrongful death suit, comes forward:
"[Mohamed] immediately got on the phone, and he started crying," her daughter tells reporter Charles Feldman. "And I said, 'I need you to stop crying, and I need you to tell me exactly what happened.'"
Nicholson's husband, David, recalls his last moments with his wife: "She kind of raised up off the table, put her arms around my neck and told me how much I loved her. I said I'd see her later."
Her husband was sitting in the lobby when strange noises began to waft from the operating room.
"About two minutes to midnight, I heard a lot of slapping, and the doctor calling out her name louder and louder," he tells Feldman. "About 10 minutes later, his assistant came out, and --without looking me in the eye -- said, 'We have a medical emergency.'"
Back on Dec. 7, when an investigative reporter from KNX visited Mohamed's Encino office, the "doctor" told him he needed $100,000 in operations, but that he could make that $50,000 if the "patient" agreed to participate in a Harvard study. No such study existed. Elsewhere, the procedure was quoted at $7,000. A shallow probe into his past has caused news sources and law enforcement to question whether Mohamed has any license to perform plastic surgery at all.
On Mohamed's website, he makes himself sound like a superstar:
"Dr. Mohamed entered medical school at age 16 and graduated with honors at the top of his class. He went on to an exceptional postgraduate education at prestigious institutions, including Baylor College of Medicine, where he did his internship. Then on to a residency at Columbia University in New York and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he became a distinguished chief resident. He also did research and clinical fellowship at the world renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center."
The state medical board is now going after Mohamed for misrepresenting his credentials; allegedly, he's only approved to practice gynecology. Which doesn't really factor into his list of "Inventions and Innovations":
"He also invented micro-invasive procedures like: face sculpting and lift, mid-face sculpting and lift, face contouring, underarm lift, abdominal tightening (tummy tuck) without surgery, medical liposuction, lipodissolve, revolutionary fat loss and skin tightening for cellulite, buttock and thigh lift. He particularly pioneered the field on non-invasive removal of eye bags and dark circles around the eyes, using proprietary techniques. He has pioneered such things as: true three-dimensional face lift, body contouring and lift and the revolutionary no downtime skin laser and IPL resurfacing, Photofacial and Fraxel."
We were similarly surprised, this morning, to discover that his secretary is still answering the phones, and sounds incredibly cheerful at that. When we asked her if we could speak to Mohamed, she said no, but did tell us that he was still available for surgery. Uh. What about the court order to halt operations?
"It's a limited restriction," says his secretary. She would not give any more details.
The [state medical] board's executive director Linda Whitney says Dr. Ehab Aly Mohamed's suspension means he cannot perform any cosmetic surgical procedure involving piercing of the skin, among other limitations.
According to CBS, a judge has also barred him from performing any cosmetic surgery until his hearing on January 10.
Update: KNX's interview with LAPD Homicide Detective Joel Price is particularly shocking. Here, he describes the incident, which occurred at least a few weeks ago, in detail:
"Paramedics were called to the scene, and they thought it odd that [Mohamed] be performing this liposuction procedure in an office setting rather than in an outpatient surgical center," he says. "The coroner's office attributed the cause of death to multi-drug intoxication, those drugs being Fentanyl, Lytacane and Oxycodone."
Still, the coroner is ruling the death as accidental, which Price explains is because Mohamed didn't seem to have it out for Nicholson.
When asked whether this is still a police matter -- considering it won't be ruled a homicide -- Price brings up a past injury report that recently came across his desk: Apparently, Mohamed once tried to perform a hernia repair on himself, and had to be rushed to a local hospital due to "his deteriorating condition."
"That caused me to question whether Dr. Mohamed was in complete control of his faculties," Price says.
This guy just keeps getting more and more... mysterious.