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‘Octomom’ doctor takes stand in medical hearing

October 20, 2010 | 12:39 pm

Kamrava The Beverly Hills fertility doctor who assisted Nadya Suleman in conceiving octuplets and six previous children gave emotional testimony Wednesday about his flight from Iran to study in the U.S. and his early involvement with in-vitro fertilization.

Dr. Michael Kamrava could have his medical license revoked if it is determined he was grossly negligent in his treatment of Suleman, 35, and two other female patients, including a 48-year-old who suffered complications after she became pregnant with quadruplets and a 42-year-old diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer after receiving fertility treatments.

Kamrava testified at the hearing before Administrative Law Judge Daniel Juarez. Suleman and the other two patients are not expected to testify, lawyers said.

Kamrava choked up several times while describing how he immigrated to the U.S. from Tehran by himself at age 16 to attend the University of Illinois in 1969, where he studied physiology. He graduated in 1972 and went on to graduate from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1976.

He completed a fellowship in obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, he said.

Kamrava later moved to Los Angeles to rejoin his family and opened a private practice in 1982, the early days of in-vitro fertilization. The doctor said he enjoyed helping infertile patients.

"You can give hope to these couples to have their own family," he said.

He said he worked at several local hospitals, including Century City Doctors Hospital, St. John's Health Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.

By the early 1990s, Kamrava said he dropped his obstetrics practice to focus full-time on fertility procedures. He said he handled about 40 IVF cases a year, reviewed scholarly articles for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and advised UCLA medical students.

"I have not seen the medical students in the past year or so, since the news broke out," he said.

Kamrava said his IVF treatments resulted in a limited number of multiple births, including three sets of triplets and fewer than 10 sets of twins.

Earlier Wednesday morning, an expert medical witness testified that Kamrava has made efforts to improve his treatment and recordkeeping since he treated Suleman.

Dr. Suraj Achar, associate professor of clinical medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, who testified as a character witness for Kamrava, said he conducted a day-long visit to Kamrava's office on short notice to review patient records (including Suleman's), speak with staff and the doctor.

He said Kamrava was "remorseful" and "contrite."

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske at the Junipero Serra state building downtown

Photo: Dr. Michael Kamrava. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times