$30 million settlement in malpractice case against surgeon, Rush

SHARE $30 million settlement in malpractice case against surgeon, Rush

The mother of a 6-year-old boy who suffered brain injury during a 2011 operation has accepted a $30 million settlement in her lawsuit against a surgeon and the hospital where he worked.

Ezequiel Chavez has brain damage and cerebral palsy as a result of a surgery that Dr. Mark Holterman performed at Rush University Medical Center, according to the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Romanucci and Blandin, the law firm representing Ezequiel’s mother, Ethel Chavez, announced the settlement Monday. It was the fourth-largest medical malpractice settlement for a child in Illinois, according to the firm.

Ezequiel was born with a leak in his esophagus, which his mother’s lawyers described as a “non-life-threatening, easily correctable condition.”

On Nov. 6, 2009, the day after Ezequiel was born, Holterman performed surgery on the baby’s esophagus.

Ezequiel was transferred from University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center to Rush in late 2010.

<small><strong> Dr. Mark Holterman</strong></small>

Dr. Mark Holterman

On Aug. 17, 2011 — after doing 24 experimental surgeries — Holterman improperly used a surgical needle that severed the child’s pulmonary artery, according to attorneys for his mother, who at the time was living in North Riverside with her husband.

Holterman’s “risky and novel” operations were careless and “demonstrated a dramatic lack of oversight” by Rush, attorney Stephan Blandin, a partner in Romanucci & Blandin, said in a statement.

Holterman left Rush in December 2011 and is on the faculty of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.

In a statement, Rush University Medical Center said it provides “exceptional service” and was “saddened” by what happened to Ezequiel.

“This case involves a young child with a very complicated medical history who received care at another hospital where multiple efforts were made to correct the child’s medical condition,” according to the statement.

“After the parents transferred the child to Rush, one of the treatment procedures did not go as hoped,” the hospital said, adding, “The settlement will provide for lifetime care.”

Holterman could not be reached for comment. In 2013, he received national attention when he was on a team that performed a rare windpipe transplant on a child in Peoria. Hannah Warren, 2, was the first child to receive a windpipe grown from her own stem cells. She died three months after the operation.

Paolo Macchiarini, an Italian doctor on the same surgical team, is now embroiled in controversy overseas as his surgical techniques have come under question.

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