What If I Got This All Wrong?

What If I Got This All
Wrong?: Is There an Untold Back Story to the Gonzalez-Angulo Trial?


Leonard Zwelling

         Without belaboring the story with another rehashing of the
trail’s evidence, verdict, and sentencing, there are on the surface a very few
irrefutable conclusions.

         Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo poisoned Dr. Blumenschein with ethylene
glycol on the morning of January 27, 2013.

admission for emergency care to MD Anderson was severely delayed and probably
cost him some renal function.

current renal function is about 40% of what it was before he was poisoned. His
life expectancy is probably shorter than it would have been and his life
quality is certainly less as his diet has been severely constrained due to the
kidney damage he suffered.

Gonzalez-Angulo is going to jail. She was sentenced to 10 years and is not
eligible for parole for at least 5 years. It is likely that she will never
practice medicine in Texas again.

appeared from the sworn testimony of many of the faculty witnesses that the
affair between the good doctors was both denied by the principals and
acknowledged and perceived as on-going by all those around them.

reluctance of many of these faculty (mostly women) to speak up and help
authorities during the post-poisoning investigation seemed to indicate a
posture of callousness or, worse, a self-preservation response on their part
that derived from fear of reprisal.

what if I got that last part all wrong for all my assumptions about the
behavior of the witnesses both prior to and after the poisoning was inferred
from their statements on the witness stand? But what did not get said may
matter every bit as much as what did.

say that all of these women who saw the defendant struggling every day did urge
her to get help or to break off the relationship. What if they saw through her
fabricated stories and realized that she was in crisis and tried to get her
professional assistance? What if they went to their superiors within the
Department of Medical Breast Medical Oncology or the Division of Cancer
Medicine and their warnings went unheeded or unacted upon? What if they tried
to do the right thing within a system ill-prepared for such problems and were
given no help by their leadership? What if those warnings made it all the way
to the executive suite?

those who testified really did try to help their colleague and were met with
indifference by those leaders chosen to manage such matters by using the
available infrastructure from Human Resources, to Employee Health, to the
Faculty Assistance Program, who is really at fault–those who had to squirm on
the witness stand or those to whom they reported who did not heed their
warnings and once disaster struck took the position that the institution had no
responsibility for what happened to Dr. Blumenschein and now to Dr. Gonzalez?

is the truth? Inquiring minds want to know.

it really Dr. Gonzalez’s colleagues who let her down or perhaps was the fault a
bit higher up the food chain? Dr. DePinho should be among those who want to
know for no matter how you slice it, at least two people have been severely and
irreparably affected and it may well have been avoidable and, in fact, people
who look terrible right now may have been trying with all their hearts to get
this right and got absolutely no help at their time and at Dr. Gonzalez’s time,
of greatest need.

is definitely worthy of some further investigation. It simply cannot happen
again. If the executives won’t do it, then the Faculty Senate ought to as a
matter of self-preservation. Mechanisms must be created to help the faculty
help each other regardless of the impotence or unwillingness to listen on the
part of the departmental, Divisional or executive leadership. 

6 thoughts on “What If I Got This All Wrong?”

  1. With all the sensationalistic, superficial, manipulated, and misinformed articles out there about this case, it is refreshing to read your objective, wise, and well- informed blog. Thank you for bringing the truth to the surface. Thank you for being honest and doing a profound analysis of the causes, implications, and consequences of this very unfortunate incident. Please keep us posted. I am Colombian, and have been following this case closely, not understanding why many of my compatriots have chosen to blindly believe that an injustice was committed against Dr. Ana Maria, and that this is all a plot to ruin her career, ignoring the details of the trial. As if this case weren't nuts already, the Colombian media and Dr. Gonzalez’s oblivious followers are turning it into a soap opera of humongous proportions.

    1. Thanks for reading and writing. What possible motive could anyone have for ruining such a promising career of a truly caring physician? This is a tragedy of epic proportions, but having been in the courtroom, I have to say that I sided with the jury as sad as this made me. LZ

    2. A big tragedy indeed. You would not believe all the absurd theories circulating out there! People are saying that Dr. Gonzalez was declared guilty simply because she is Colombian; that all the references about Colombian coffee, doing things the "Colombian way", etc. were calculated by the prosecution to damage Dr. Gonzalez's image based on the bad reputation of our country. Other people are saying that the jury and the Texas judicial system are xenophobic by nature, and that she was convicted simply because she is Hispanic. The most prevalent theory is that Dr. Blumenschein planned the whole thing with his girlfriend to pretty much get rid of Dr. González because he was envious and jealous of her professional success; or that his girlfriend was the one who poisoned him out of jealousy. The final theory is that this is a big conspiracy crafted by the pharmaceutical companies and the doctors to ruin Dr. González’s career because her research was a threat to the interests of the big pharmaceutical companies. As you can see, there is enough material to write a novel. I am sure that this case has affected you deeply since you know the people and have ties to the institution. Hopefully a lesson has been learned by all. As a Colombian, it has been painful for me too. Thank you for sharing your point of view.

    3. Sure. Those theories are all absurd. The science behind ethylene glycol poisoning, which was for sure what happened, is such that only Ana could have done this. It is heart breaking indeed, but all those other thoughts are simply conjecture. I was in the courtroom. She got a fair trial and a good, honest jury. There was no doubt about the conclusion and the punishment was appropriate. I know that it must be very sad for your country, but this is what happened. Remember, her lawyers put up no defense because had they done so, the prosecution would undoubtedly worsened things for Ana as they were tenacious and very effective having done their homework. Her lawyers were top drawer and I think they did about the best they could have. Len

    4. I totally agree, and I wish the Colombian media would stop feeding this idea that Dr. Gonzalez has been framed and is a victim of either an evil conspiracy or a xenophobic legal system. As painful as the reality is, people will have to accept it. Thank you so much, Dr. Zwelling. Best regards. Mariángela Flórez.

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