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But Tangeman said in his ruling dismissing the other two charges that there was no evidence Roozrokh administered or ordered a combination of morphine and the sedative. The judge also noted that doctors and nurses present when Navarro died gave conflicting accounts of what happened.
Roozrokh, a surgeon at Kaiser Permanente's now-closed kidney transplant program, was working at the time on behalf of a group that procures and distributes organs.
The case is being watched closely by physicians and others in the medical field, said Arthur Caplan, a professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania who worries that a conviction could hurt prospects for expanding organ donation.
"It's a trust issue," Caplan said. "It's such a moral taboo to give the appearance of hastening a death through organ donation. Were he to be found guilty, it would be a thunderclap heard through the organ procurement field."
Navarro, who weighed about 80 pounds, was born with a neurological disorder known as adrenoleukodystrophy and also had cerebral palsy. He lived in a home for mentally and physically challenged adults in the year before his death.
The hospital and its parent company settled a lawsuit last year filed by Rosa Navarro for $250,000. Under terms of the settlement, the hospital acknowledged no wrongdoing.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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