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Dr. Jan Adams Leaves Larry King Set; Panel Discussion

Aired November 24, 2007 - 20:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive -- the doctor who performed plastic surgery on Kanye West's mother the day before she died is here to talk. Dr. Jan Adams responds to questions about malpractice suits, alcohol problems and a bid to yank his medical license.
He's enjoyed TV celebrity in the past.

How is he dealing with the glare of the spotlight now?

And on the day of Donda West's funeral, what does he want to say to her famous son and the rest of her family?

Dr. Jan Adams is next, only on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

I have had unusual situations in 50 years of broadcasting. Tonight only adds to the list.

As we go on the air, Dr. Adams, who arrived a little late because of plane difficulties, is in our Green Room his attorney talking to our producers. Dr. Adams apparently received a letter late today from the family of Donda West -- the late Donda West -- threatening that if he were to go on this program and give any kind of attention to Miss. West or her family, they would ask the California Medical Board to decertify him -- literally taking away his license to practice medicine. He has said he does not want to break any promises to that family. We have said to him, we'll discuss things other than Donda West, about him and his practice.

And he is now deciding what to do. And I'll let you know as soon as he lets us know. We can't force a guest to go on. But he is here. He's in the Green Room. He's with his attorney. And they're, as they say, sorting it out.

So with us to discuss that until we get some decision are, here in -- in New York, is Galina Espinoza. She is the senior editor with "People" magazine.

And Lola Ogunnaike. She is a reporter with "AMERICAN MORNING" for CNN.

In Los Angeles, is Carlos Diaz, a correspondent with "Extra".

And Shaun Robinson, who is a weekend anchor with "Access Hollywood".

Now, Galina, does "People" have a story with Dr. Adams this week?

GALINA ESPINOZA, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: In fact, we do. He sat down for us -- with us -- he sat down with us for an interview on November 18th, where he did talk at length about what happened.

KING: So what do you make about this occurrence tonight and the request by the family -- or that -- I would put demand by the family?

ESPINOZA: I think certainly he's in a very difficult position. On the one hand, he wants to share his side of the story. He wants to set the record straight. On the other hand, he also feels he needs to respect the family's wishes, and out of respect for Donda, not say too much.

KING: Did he say a lot to you about the family?

ESPINOZA: He did not say a lot about the family. He did say that he been in touch with some of her relatives since her death and that he -- out of respect -- did not want to say too much about that. He talked at length about a lot of the charges that had been leveled against him -- that he shouldn't have been operating on her in the first places, things like that.

KING: Lola Ogunnaike, what do you make of it?

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's a very interesting development. He has been quite vocal. He's spoken to people. He's spoken to TMZ.

KING: And the "L.A. Times".

OGUNNAIKE: And the "L.A. Times". So it's not as if he's been a hermit.

KING: But this would have been his first expensive television interview.

OGUNNAIKE: This would have been his first extensive television interview -- and probably his best interview. I'm anxious to see what happens. I know that Kanye West has been very clear about wanting to respect his mother, respect his mother's, you know, death. And he has been vocal at all. He's not been seen. He just surfaced -- he surfaced in Paris, actually, and had a concert there. And he broke down on stage.

This is clearly something that he's dealing with and it's very difficult for him. And he does not want this to be a spectacle of at all.

KING: How does Dr. Adams' talking about it disrespect his mother?

OGUNNAIKE: Well, I think that he -- in the ideal word -- would have us not even speak about this. You know, he would want -- he believes that all of this press and all that's been out there about this is, in some ways, disrespectful to her legacy and to who she is. And I think that the family feels that they want to celebrate her life, not her death. And so getting caught up in all of these details is really just not casting light on the right thing.

KING: Will they be harmed when "People" comes out this week?

ESPINOZA: I don't think so. We talked to a lot of friends and family members of the family. And they were actually very open in wanting to remember her, wanting to pay tribute to her. They wanted to paint a portrait of who she was as a woman, as a mother, as a professor. She really led an incredible life and I think we do pay tribute to that.

KING: Carlos Diaz...


KING: Hold it one second, Lola.

Carlos Diaz, what's your read on this?

Again, the conversation remains in the Green Room, a little off to our right.

CARLOS DIAZ, "EXTRA" CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have to understand, Kanye West is watching this program right now, I mean, and he just put his mom in the ground today.

And does he want to hear a doctor come on and hypothesize about, you know, what could have killed his mother?

I mean he went -- when Dr. Adams talked to the "L.A. Times," he came up with three scenarios, talking about it being a pulmonary embolism, an accidental overdose or maybe even a heart attack. So, you know, those things might be not the best words that Kanye needs to hear right now at this time, after the funeral today.

KING: Since it's true, though, Carlos, that we haven't got the final autopsy...

DIAZ: Right.

KING: It is all conjecture, isn't it?

DIAZ: That's true. And, you know, from my understanding, when Dr. Adams did the, you know, the interview with the "L.A. Times," you know, he gave these three scenarios and then called back after the interview was over to say I'm talking hypothetically here, I'm not talking specifically about Donda West. So, you know, I mean, like you said, if he comes on your program tonight and talks hypothetically or talks just about his own career, I don't see the problem in that.

KING: Now, Shaun, apparently Kanye will return on his tour and perform in London Thursday night. Is that respectful?

SHAUN ROBINSON, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, everybody grieves in their own way, Larry. At the funeral today -- and I think, you know, I have kind of a unique perspective because I just had an exclusive sit down with Donda West and Kanye just a couple of months ago, when they asked me to host a foundation benefit in Chicago.

And one of the things that Kanye said at his mother's service today, when he got up and spoke very briefly, is the reason I'm up here is because if I didn't come up here, my mother would say come up here and say something. Don't be afraid, because when you are afraid, the world will walk all over you. And if this is the way that he is dealing with the situation, if this is the way he feels his mother would want him to deal with this situation -- and meaning continuing on this tour, I think he knows her better than all of us. So I think we should respect his decision to continue his work in the way he sees fit.

KING: What was the service like, Shaun?

ROBINSON: We understand that it was a beautiful service, Larry. It was in Spencer, Oklahoma, right outside of Oklahoma City. Donda West's church was actually too small to hold all of the people who wanted to attend the service today. So they had it at another church that held 2,500 people. The place was packed -- full of family members and friends and well-wishers.

In terms of the some of the celebrities who were there, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Common, John Legend and Anita Baker actually sang at the service. And she was -- her casket was placed in a horse drawn carriage, as you could see right there on the screen.

KING: Yes.

ROBINSON: A beautiful, beautiful sendoff for a woman who inspired

KING: Right.

ROBINSON: ...not only this son, but so many people.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll come back with more of our panel.

Again, if you've just tuned in, Dr. Adams, due to be our exclusive guest tonight, arrived about 40 minutes -- well, 30 minutes ago -- the plane being late. He apparently will join us -- and that's the latest information we get. So we'll check all of that out. You hang close. We'll be right back.


USHER: Kanye West's mother, my heart and my prayers and all of our prayers go out to you, Kanye.

RIHANNA: Kanye, be strong for us. Be strong.

KID ROCK: Definitely, thoughts and prayers to Kanye West.


KING: And we now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Dr. Jan Adams, the plastic surgeon who performed plastic surgery on

the late Donda West.

And I understand want to say something.


I -- what I really want to say is I want to thank you for this opportunity. Basically, I had come here to talk about things in the press that aren't accurate about me. But I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for the West family. And they've asked me not to go on. And I've said from the very beginning, I don't have a side in this. They are my side.

And so I'm going to respect their wishes. And I'm going to apologize to you because I think I'm taking up your air time. But I will not be on the show and I will not discuss any of that. I'm going to honor their wishes, OK?

KING: Meaning, you won't answer any questions about anything?

ADAMS: None. None.

KING: All right.

Then how will -- will you ever answer questions?

I mean what -- where does this go?

ADAMS: Well, I will talk with them...

KING: I'm not mentioning Mrs. West.

ADAMS: I will talk with them. When they're comfortable, then I'll be comfortable. If they're never comfortable, then I'll never be comfortable. They are what's important to me. I said that from the start and that's what I'll continue to honor.

KING: Then just a few things having nothing to do with them.

Don't you want to speak out?


KING: You don't want to?

ADAMS: No. I do not.

KING: All right.

But you came here to speak out. ADAMS: That's correct. But I'm going to honor their wishes.

KING: OK. We'll bring our panel back and take a break, and we'll be right back.



KING: Welcome back.

Our standby panel has reassembled.

They are, in Los Angeles, Carlos Diaz, correspondent for "Extra".

Also here in New York -- also in Los Angeles, rather, is Shaun Robinson, correspondent for "Access Hollywood," who interviewed Kanye West's mom, Donda.

Here in New York is Galina Espinoza, senior editor for "People" magazine. They will have a story on all of this in this week's issue.

And Lola Ogunnaike. She is a CNN "AMERICAN MORNING" entertainment correspondent who was with both Kanye and his mom at the Video Music Awards.

We asked at the beginning what they made of the idea that Dr. Adams was in the Green Room discussing all this. And now we will get their thoughts as to what he just said.

What do you make of it?

We'll start with you, Galina.

ESPINOZA: Well, I think that he probably made the right decision. He has been talking a lot. I think a lot of lawyers would have advised him not to say anything at all from the beginning because, obviously, there are things that might come back to haunt him in the end. And I think that he's probably getting some good advice and feels like he should just let his lawyer handle it from now on.

KING: Some things said in print are different from things said on television, which should get repeated again.

Wouldn't you think he -- as I said to him off camera -- wouldn't you think he would want to, Lola -- forget Mrs. West for a minute. All the things being written about him, the was he board-certified, how long has he been practicing, where does he practice, etc. who was his anesthesia -- wouldn't you want to get that out?

OGUNNAIKE: Yes. I would think he woo want to clear his name. He has a perfect perform to tell you who he is as a person. There's all this sort of speculation out there in the media about who he is, his past, the duis, you know, the malpractice suits against him.

KING: So why wouldn't you want to answer that... OGUNNAIKE: Hey, I mean...

KING: Nothing to do with Mrs. West.


OGUNNAIKE: It has nothing to do with Mrs. West. Exactly. He could have spent this time talking about who he is, who he has been as a doctor, his qualifications, you know, his resume. But I guess he chose otherwise.

ESPINOZA: Although I will say that at this point, the West family has not announced any intention to sue him or hold him liable for Donda West's death. So he may...

KING: But they sent him a strong letter...

ESPINOZA: Exactly.

KING: ...they're going to ask to have him decertified.

ESPINOZA: And so he may feel that, you know, he doesn't want to rock the boat.

Why make things worse?

So far, it hasn't gone to that level. He's trying to keep it from escalating.

KING: And, Carlos, he hasn't been charged with anything.

But what did you make of this appearance tonight?

DIAZ: Let me tell you what I think, what I make about Galina not, you know -- Galina taking his side. "People" has the exclusive. They love that he's not talking on your show tonight because now "People" has got, you know, the only interview with this guy, you know, that's going to be coming out.

I -- the question that I have, he comes on and he sits across from you, Larry, and says, I want to talk about all of the negativity that's being written about me in the press and then he walks off. So, I mean, well, are you going to talk about what's being written about you in the press?

Are you going to clear that up?

And then you're going to walk off?

I don't understand that.

KING: Shaun Robinson, what do you make of it?

ROBINSON: Well, Larry, I think that he definitely made the right decision. I was pretty shocked that he was granting these interviews in the first place. You know, this is an extraordinarily serious matter that we're talking about. We're talking about the death of someone who we believe was healthy before this -- this particular surgery. So I definitely think that Dr. Adams made the right decision out of respect to the West family and also just, I think, for his own benefit.

KING: But if you think, Galina, that you didn't do anything wrong, you didn't do anything wrong, wouldn't you want to, as a -- especially someone who's been on television a lot and obviously can express themselves well, wouldn't you want to say, no, wait a minute, hold it, you've got that wrong?

ESPINOZA: And I think he certainly has done that to an extent with these other interviews that he's given. Someone must have said to him, you know what?

You're talking too much. Time to zip it.

KING: Well, I think they were reacting to the letter from the family.

ESPINOZA: Possibly.

KING: I believe that.

Well, why did he fly all the way here?


ESPINOZA: Absolutely. And certainly, I mean, you would have to take that seriously. I think anyone in his position, if the family reaches out to you in that way, you've got to think twice about it.

KING: Lola?

OGUNNAIKE: Oh, Kanye...

KING: I mean he flew all the way here.

OGUNNAIKE: He flew all the way here. Clearly, he had intentions of speaking on this show. And I agree with you, I think that letter kind of spooked him out and he decided, look, Kanye and his family are very serious about me not speaking and it's in my best interests to keep my mouth shut, even though this would have been the perfect forum for him to defend himself and for him to explain to America who he is as a doctor.

KING: Where does this go from here, Carlos?

DIAZ: Well, you know, it's -- we're back to where we were a half an hour ago. I mean there were so many questions that he could have answered that didn't have to do with Donda West. He could have talked about the malpractice suits. He could have talked about the DUIs that he's been accused of -- the two in the past. He could have talked about a number of things -- the back taxes. He owes over $100,000 in back taxes, allegedly. He could have talked about all of those things and stayed away from Donda West. And, as you said, Larry, he could have cleared his name a bit.

KING: In case you just joined us and are late and you missed this, we'll replay what occurred a little while ago -- the statement by Dr. Jan Adams. And them more conversation about it. We'll also include some of your phone calls.

I will say this, that Dr. Adams did say before he left that as soon as he's ready to come out, he would appear exclusively on this program. I report that as a matter of fact.

Here's what happened.


ADAMS: I'm going to honor their wishes, OK?

KING: Meaning, you won't answer any questions about anything?

ADAMS: None. None.

KING: All right.

Then how will -- will you ever answer questions?

I mean what -- where does this go?

ADAMS: Well, I will talk with them...

KING: I'm not mentioning Mrs. West.

ADAMS: I will talk with them. When they're comfortable, then I'll be comfortable. If they're never comfortable, then I'll never be comfortable. They are what's important to me. I said that from the start and that's what I'll continue to honor.

KING: Then just a few things having nothing to do with them.

Don't you want to speak out?


KING: You don't want to?

ADAMS: No. I do not.

KING: All right.

But you came here to speak out.

ADAMS: That's correct. But I'm going to honor their wishes.

KING: OK, we'll bring our panel back and take a break and we'll be right back.


KING: Do you think that helped him?

ESPINOZA: In the court of public opinion, probably not. I think that, you know...

KING: The public wanted to know.

ESPINOZA: ...when we came in here, it was funny, the security guards downstairs were talking and they said that doctor has got a lot of explaining to do. And I think that's how anyone who is watching this case feels.

KING: So you think it might, Shaun, look like a copout?

ROBINSON: Well, actually, to tell you the truth, Larry, as I said before, I think it was a very smart move on, you know, on his part. There have been so many things that have been said about his surgical skills and his background. And, of course, he wanted to -- in his mind -- you know, set the record straight.

But this was obviously a very strongly worded letter from the West family. And their story has kind of been lost in all of the stories about Dr. Adams. And I think maybe that's what they are reacting to. They're like, look, you know, our mother, our daughter, our cousin is dead -- and all of the attention is on somebody else, instead of honoring her legacy. And, you know, that's a very frustrating position to be in.

So I think that he did the absolutely right thing in not saying anything else.

KING: So, Lola, what does he do now?

He just sits tight and waits to see what the results of the autopsy -- is there some kind of criminal information coming?

What does he do now?

OGUNNAIKE: Well, we're all still waiting to get the toxicology reports. The preliminary autopsy said that it appears that she died from complications of cosmetic surgery, but we won't know for another six to eight weeks exactly.

I'm assuming he's going to wait until the West family reaches out to him and says it's OK for you to speak to Larry King.

I doubt they'll be doing that any time soon. So we probably won't hear from him for a while.

KING: Galina, does this go away?

ESPINOZA: Oh, I don't think so. This is way too...

KING: Let me -- no, wait a minute.


KING: Hold it.

The public's ability to -- hold on. Six to eight weeks -- no report coming?

ESPINOZA: I think it's such a high profile case, number one. Number two, plastic surgery in this country is booming. And I think that we've been almost lulled into feeling that it's no risk. It's not no risk. It's low risk, but it's not no risk. And that's an important message we want, you know, people are starting to hear.

KING: But in this world, Carlos, of eat up, chop up news, what happened to the little girl in Portugal -- the British girl?

Where did that story go?

DIAZ: That's a great point. But it's about -- just like Galina just said -- what people can relate to now. And as plastic surgery grows and grows, the concerns -- I mean let's -- let's talk about Donda West. She went in for a tummy tuck. She went in for a breast reduction and she went in for liposuction. And, you know, a day later, she's dead.

So that's the thing that hits home with a lot of people here in America because, you know, like you just said, I mean there's a lot of people going in for plastic surgery and there's that threat -- there's that scare that they can come out, you know, not only -- not looking great, but also, you know, with health concerns.

It's interesting, when you look at the interview that Dr. Adams did with the "L.A. Times," how he did hypothesize about three things and said he doesn't want to give his official reasoning why he thinks Donda West died until after the autopsy was fully complete, with the toxicology reports coming out in six to eight weeks. I think the three things that he mentioned -- one of them being her possibly overdosing on painkillers -- that could be something that really infuriated the West family.

KING: Lola, do you think the West family might someday say, OK, go ahead?

OGUNNAIKE: I think if anyone speaks out about Donda West, it will be a member of the West family.

KING: Like Kanye?

OGUNNAIKE: Like Kanye.

KING: Well, he should be the one, shouldn't he?

OGUNNAIKE: I think that if he does to choose to talk about this, it will be Kanye. And I don't know if -- I don't know if he will be ready to talk about this any time soon, I tell you. I mean he was on stage in Paris and he broke down when he was about to rap. His song, "Hey, Mama," which is dedicated to her -- this is something he is still dealing with, obviously, and the two of them -- people need to understand just how close they were. They had a remarkable mother and son relationship. And this is not something that he wants to talk about in the public at all.

KING: Will the "People" magazine article help him?

ESPINOZA: Help Kanye or help the doctor?

KING: Help the doctor.

ESPINOZA: Well, I think it will help satisfy curiosity people have about what happened...

KING: He answers a lot of the questions about certification, about lawsuits...

ESPINOZA: Absolutely. Absolutely. And he talks about a lot of those criticism that have been directed at him. So I think that you do get to hear part of his side of the story.

It's unfortunate that he doesn't want to clear up the whole thing. But I think, as we've discussed, you could understand why he is taking that position.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more on this edition of -- this unusual edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've said you're a momma's boy.

KANYE WEST: Yes. My mom didn't teach me to like go to school and act like you didn't do good.

My mom was an actress, too. And like everybody in my family, like especially on her side, they were singers and -- the whole family. So if you came and you saw my grandfather talk, you would say Kanye is the most humble person I've ever met.



KING: We're back.

In a little while, we'll repeat that again for those who joined us late, of Dr. Jan Adams' brief appearance on this program.

Carlos Diaz, Shaun Robinson, Galina Espinoza and Lola Ogunnaike all remain.

We are joined now by one of my favorite people, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent.

First, what do you make of this?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean it just -- it was bizarre. I was sitting there watching it right with you and, you know, I sort of got a sense that he was obviously very anxious about going on, just standing with him off -- off...

KING: He wanted go on.

GUPTA: Yes, he wanted to go on. It was one of those strange things, you know, Larry, we cover so many stories of the medical aspects of so many famous people all the time. And I remember with Clinton, for example, when he was having his heart surgery here in New York, there was a memo that went out to the doctor saying, if you so much as look up his records or talk about him at all, we will fire you.

And they were very, very -- I mean, this patient-physician confidentiality thing they were really enforcing. And I don't know, I mean, that is something that...

KING: But this was the family's request though, right? All right. Does patient confidentiality continue after death?

GUPTA: I believe so. That's a good question. I don't know the legal aspects of it, but in terms of the investigation, someone's death, that they are talking about someone who has possibly overdosed versus an embolism to their lungs versus a heart attack. Only the patient's family really is allowed to release that information.

KING: Even after death.

GUPTA: Even after death.

KING: So, therefore, if you lost a patient, God forbid, you would not discuss that with anyone other than family?

GUPTA: That's right. And I always have, you know, with the family only. Now, there's -- I've operated, for example, on athletes and the family will come to me and say, you know, we're getting so many press requests, can you go out and release a statement so that we can sort of quell some of these requests? And that's something I have done in the past.

KING: Preliminary autopsy reports found she died, this is a quote, as a result of "surgery or anesthesia." Why doesn't it know?

GUPTA: That's going to be a generic thing. They could have almost said that without doing an autopsy period. This is all -- that's based on simply looking at the record. The patient had surgery and essentially died within what's called the perioperative period.

So even though it sounds like she didn't die in the hospital or in clinic, she died within the period still considered around surgery. So until proven otherwise, it's attributable to the surgery or to the anesthesia.

KING: All right. And it says, "the outcome of toxicology tests are pending." How long pending? GUPTA: That actually should come back pretty quickly. My understanding was that she died on November 10th and it's the 20th today. So I don't know exactly when they were sent but that actually is just a few days typically for that to come back. So I don't know if they have it back, they are just not releasing it or what exactly is happening now.

KING: All right. And by the way, our panelists can throw questions as well because there ain't anybody better than Dr. Gupta. Give me some examples of how a person could die with plastic surgery.

GUPTA: Well, you know, you're talking about three rather extensive procedures here. First of all, you're talking about a tummy tuck operation, which basically means you have this abdominis rectus muscles here, the name is that important, but they are the six pack. You're strengthening those. That can be very painful.

It also makes it so that a patient doesn't want to move at all. The reason that's important, Larry, is because they can be more subjected to clots, clots actually forming. Second thing is liposuction. Liposuction, small amounts is not that dangerous. You are starting to get -- take several liters of fat out, that can be dangerous. That can cause lots of bleeding.

And the third thing is breast operation. Adding those three things together, they are possibly bloody, they possibly can cause clotting and it's just a big operation. Also the anesthesia time. The anesthetic risk is also something to consider in an operation like this. Once you start getting over a few hours in terms of operative time period, you have got to worry about the anesthesia as well.

KING: What is it board certified?

GUPTA: This is a good question. Board certified means that after you have completed your residency, you sit before a board, usually made up of your peers, professors in your specific specialty, and they ask you questions about your cases, about your history, about complications that might arise.

They test to make sure you're a competent surgeon: plastic, neuro, orthopedic, whatever it might be. It's a voluntary process in this country. A lot of people don't realize that. To become board certified is a voluntary process. You have to be licensed to practice in the state of California, the state of New York, but you don't have to be board certified to practice medicine.

KING: And you spend more time in school?

GUPTA: No, you don't have to spend more time in school. But you have got to take another test and you have got to submit all of your cases to the board, which they are going to review.

KING: In the People story, was Dr. Adams board certified?

ESPINOZA: He was not board certified and we did ask him why he wasn't. And he said that he did in fact start the process to become board certified, but things happened in his life. He had a serious illness. He wasn't able to complete the process.

And then he went on to say, and I'm going to read this quote to you, saying that he wasn't bothered by the fact that he does not have this credential, saying, we have made the board a tie to a certain level of competence, which I don't really think is true.

So clearly, he did not think it was important for him to be board certified. He thought he was perfectly qualified.

KING: Are you board certified?

GUPTA: I am board certified. It was something I decided to do...

KING: Was it important to you?

GUPTA: It was important to me. I think -- first of all, I work at a hospital that would not allow me practice there unless I was board certified. And a lot of accredited hospitals around the country, even though it's a voluntary process, they sort of enforce it by saying, look, we won't allow you to practice here unless you are board certified. So in fact it makes it mandatory for a lot of different doctors.

KING: Why do you think other than discussing Donda West, he would not talk about any other aspect? I mean, he could have talked about his own certification, that has nothing to do with Donda West.

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. It's baffling.

KING: Puzzling.

GUPTA: I mean, there are a lots of difficult allegations being thrown at him. And you know, in full disclosure, I should point out, Larry, he and I trained at the same place as well. We talked about that we both trained at the University of Michigan years ago. I haven't talked to him in a long time.

KING: Trained together?

GUPTA: Trained together. And I know the folk that trained him. They are among the nation's best, Dr. David Smith (ph), Dr. Riley Reese (ph). These are surgeons who are at the pinnacle of plastic surgery. Why he would not talk about the malpractice suits, the DUIs, the assault charges, all of that sort of stuff, I don't know.

It seems like it would have been a good opportunity to sort of clear your name on some of that stuff and still, as you said, respect the privacy of the West family.

KING: What did he say about the DUIs?

ESPINOZA: The DUIs he did not talk about. He did talk about a lot of the malpractice suits, and he dismissed most of them as "nuisance suits," with his quote. And he did actually go on to say that in at least three cases where he did agree to a default judgment against him that if he had to do it over again, he wouldn't do it, that he was an idiot for doing so. That was his explanation.

KING: Do a lot of doctors get nuisance malpractice suits?

GUPTA: Yes, it does happen. I think one thing that I was told when I finished my residency is as a surgeon, expect to get sued. You are going to get sued at least once probably in your career.

KING: Have you been sued?

GUPTA: I have not as of now. But, you know, I don't think that's a statement about my expertise or competence. I think it's just that so far it has not happened.

KING: If you or a relative of yours were going for plastic surgery, would you go to a non-board certified surgeon?

GUPTA: Well, to Galina's point, there are a couple of interesting things about that. There is data to suggest that once you become board certified your rate of success, your rate of not, for example, having disastrous outcomes, seems to improve.

So there is some real virtue in actually being board certified from patient's standpoint. So now there are doctors, Larry, who are board eligible. Meaning, they are sort of in that period after residency, before they have actually have taken their boards, and they are going to take their boards. But I would want board certification.

KING: I'm going to have our panel ask questions of Dr. Gupta when we come back. And when we come back, we will play you in its entirety Dr. Jan Adams' appearance, from start to finish a little while ago on this program. Don't go away.


KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. And in a moment Dr. Gupta will be joined by Alan Tenenbaum, who is one of the many attorneys for Dr. Jan Adams. But first, if you joined us late. Here was Dr. Adams' appearance earlier.


KING: And we now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Dr. Jan Adams, the plastic surgeon who performed plastic surgery on the late Donda West.

And I understand you want to say something.

ADAMS: Yes, Larry. What I really want to say is I want to thank you for this opportunity. Basically, I had come here to talk about things in the press that are not accurate about me. But I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for the West family, and they've asked me not to go on.

And I've said from the very beginning, I don't have a side in this. They are my side. And so I'm going to respect their wishes. And I'm going to apologize to you, because I think I'm taking up your air time. But I will not be on the show, and I will not discuss any of that. I'm going to honor their wishes. OK?

KING: Meaning you won't answer any questions about anything?

ADAMS: None, none.

KING: All right, then how will -- will you ever answer questions? I mean, where does this go?

ADAMS: Well, I will talk with them...


ADAMS: I will talk with them. When they are comfortable, then I will be comfortable. If they are never comfortable, then I will never be comfortable. They are what's important to me. I said that from the start, and that's what I will continue to honor.

KING: Then just a few things having nothing to do with them. Don't you want to speak out?


KING: You don't want to?

ADAMS: No. I do not.

KING: All right. But you came here to speak out.

ADAMS: That's correct. But I'm going to honor their wishes.

KING: OK. We will bring our panel back.


KING: All right. That was the appearance earlier by Dr. Jan Adams. Dr. Gupta remains with us. And we are joined by Alan Tenenbaum, one of Dr. Adams' attorneys.

What was the reason for this?

ALAN TENENBAUM, ATTORNEY FOR JAN ADAMS: Well, I think Dr. Adams already told you that he received a letter late today from Kanye West's family, the attorneys, asking him not to appear. So he has got to respect their wishes.

You know, there's a thing called the physician-patient privilege that is a privilege that the patient holds, and it protects communications between a physician and a patient. So the physician doesn't reveal information that the patient does not want to reveal. So that privilege extends to the patient. In this case, it extends to the family of the patient.

KING: Even if the patient is deceased?

TENENBAUM: Yes. In that case the family would control the issue of privilege. It's not the doctor's privilege, it's the patient's privilege.

KING: But how about the other aspect? No one likes having charges being railed against you, as has happened against Dr. Adams in the press, which he could have responded to, having nothing to do with Donda West.

TENENBAUM: Well, you would have to ask Kanye's family attorney that question. Because really, they think it's all intertwined. They would prefer it, it would appear at this point, that nobody talk about any of those issues.

KING: In other words, if they made a specific request and just said, you can discuss your own career or any other aspect of your life but nothing to do with our mother, that would have been all right, had they said that?

TENENBAUM: I think that's correct. And then there would not be any kind of issue. Certainly Dr. Adams doesn't want to create any issue with the family, any dispute with the family.

KING: As her attorney -- as his attorney, do you have any fears of any criminal action of any kind or major civil action? Since a good attorney is always prepared prepared.

TENENBAUM: Yes, of course. I mean, Dr. Adams has several attorneys that are advising him. I'm one of the attorneys advising him. You would probably have to talk to other people about that issue. But that's something an attorney always worries about and always wants to be cautious.

Physician-patient privilege not a criminal statute, it's a civil statute. It protects people from the release of information that they feel may be harmful, damaging, embarrassing to them.

KING: So you don't fear any criminal problems for your client?

TENENBAUM: Well, not with respect to that issue. At this stage certainly there have been no allegations made -- criminal allegations made against him by anyone, including the family at this point.

KING: So do you agree with his respecting their family's request, since, as you said he didn't have to do that?

TENENBAUM: Well, I think he does have to do it because to the extent there are issues about even why he's here, why this is in the media, it relates to the relationship he had with his patient. So until gets clearance from the family, I don't think it would be fair or right for him to talk about these things.

KING: Do you understand his wanting to clear up all of these things? My gosh.

TENENBAUM: Of course. And a lot has been reported in the media in the way this whole industry works, the entertainment industry, things get spun out of control. News services pick up a report from one place, it changes as it go as long. I think D. Adams wants to talk about all of that and clear his name and clear his record.

KING: Well, I will tell you, if he contacted the West family tomorrow -- I'm on vacation this week, but if he rethinks this and comes back tomorrow night, I will come back tomorrow night. Is that fair? I mean, you could ask the family, what if he discusses just his own life without discussing Mrs. West?

TENENBAUM: Well, I think the family should understand his position, the difficult position that he has been put in, because the media is saying things about him.

KING: Obviously, Mrs. West liked him?



KING: How was the letter delivered, by the way?

TENENBAUM: It was faxed to his attorney in California late this afternoon, is my understanding. And Dr. Adams received it as he arrived at your office.

KING: We will take a break. We will be right back. Is John King ready to check in or do we check back with him? Is John King there? There he is. John King. He will host -- it has been one of those nights.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: There is nothing quite like live television, is there, Larry?

KING: No. You will host "AC 360" at the top of the hour, John. What's up?

JOHN KING: You're doing a great job handling all of those curveballs, Larry.

At the top of the hour we are going to go to Italy, where an American college student is a murder suspect. Her name is Amanda Knox and the details of the case are bizarre to say the least. She's accused of killing her roommate. Her boyfriend is also a suspect. We will have that story.

And sentencing day for polygamy sect leader Warren Jeffs. In court today, the fallen prophet was given his chance to speak and he heard from his victim. We will hear them coming up.

And, Larry, we will talk about your remarkable show tonight. And I have to tell you, a complete pro, handling all of those surprises.

KING: Thank you, John. We will be right back with more. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donda West was the guiding light behind Kanye West's success. She quit her job as a college professor to manage her son's exploding career. She was only 58 years old when she died.



KING: Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, remains with us. So does Alan Tenenbaum, one of the attorneys representing Dr. Jan Adams. And he has agreed, they will contact the family tomorrow of Dr. West. And if the family says it's all right, I'll come in tomorrow and so will Dr. Adams to discuss any aspect of this other than the treatment of Donda West and what happened to her on the operating table and the like, but to discuss other aspects that have been kicked around in press, hopefully, so that all things can be cleared up.

We're joined on the phone by two well-known criminal attorneys, Mark Geragos and Trent Copeland.

Mark is there -- do you see any criminal involvement here?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Clearly, they have got to have some fear of criminal charges or a criminal investigation. I mean, he has presently got a medical board action against him for his prior conviction that were alcohol-related.

The problem is for him that the medical board is an investigating agency. Any time there's a death, they are going to open an investigation. If they find that there's some kind of either criminal negligence or gross negligence, they can work hand in hand with the D.A.'s office and they can bring charges.

And so, he has a great specter of potential liability here and has to be very, very careful.

KING: But you have often spoken out against pretrial publicity attacking a possible defendant.

GERAGOS: Absolutely.

KING: Do you think that Dr. Adams is getting a raw deal here?

GERAGOS: Well, he's in a very difficult situation because, number one, he has a -- there is a physician-patient privilege. It survives death. The family holds the privilege. So he cannot talk about this case, and in fact some of the comments that have been attributed to him have been dangerous or difficult for him, obviously.

The bigger problem that he has is in responding in any way, shape, or form to anything surrounding this. Somebody might be able to construe it as him commenting or violating that. That in and of itself can be additional charges, not in a criminal sense but from the medical board. So he does not want to inflame that situation.

And he certainly does not want to get into a situation where he says anything, even if the family would let him talk about other things, whether that might expose him to probable criminal investigation.

KING: Trent Copeland, how do you see this?

TRENT COPELAND, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, I see it much the same way. And you know, look, Larry, I think there's always the possibility in a high-profile case like this where there's a specter of criminal charges. You know, I represented a doctor here in Los Angeles who was covered by The Los Angeles Times pretty heavily, and this was a doctor who had also -- stemming from a botched medical procedure, there were criminal charges brought against him by the district attorney's office here in Los Angeles.

And you know, this got a lot of press coverage. This guy wanted respond. My client wanted to respond. And I cautioned him, just like I think the lawyers for Dr. West have cautioned him -- Dr. Adams have cautioned him against commenting on this West case. I think that that's probably the way to go. So I'm very concerned if I'm his lawyer about making any statements.

And, Larry, I'm not certain that I would ever caution him to come on and encourage him to come on the show and to talk about anything in the absence of -- maybe even having his lawyer right next to him as he interviews with you.

KING: Dr. Gupta, wouldn't you -- in this position, wouldn't you want to go on?

GUPTA: Yes, I think so. This is interesting to hear them talk about it, but on the other hand, you have him -- he is being tried in the court of public opinion, as you often say, Larry.

KING: Easy for them to say.

GUPTA: It's easy for them to say, but he's getting hammered. He's getting hammered with the driving under the influence, the assault charges, the malpractice suits. You know, he has got to think about his own reputation. He has got to think about his own career. All of this is going to post-date all of this. This is going to go away eventually but not for him unless he takes control of it.

KING: Right. He is going to be tagged with it for a long time now.

TENENBAUM: Well, and that's the issue. How do you respond to allegations that are being made about other conduct, other events if you can't speak out? Even the situation of a particular patient, if information isn't out there and you can't talk about it, how do you talk about it? How do you respond to allegations made in any context, whether it's past conduct or present conduct if the privilege prevents you from talking about it?

KING: You're between a rock and a hard place.

TENENBAUM: You are. You are. And it's particularly difficult I think for him because he has been on TV.

KING: Yes, he's a personality.

TENENBAUM: To some extent, yes.

KING: We will take a break and be back with our remaining moments of this extraordinary evening. And the offer still stands for tomorrow. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people think that he is arrogant and pompous. I think that maybe that's not true. He's certainly confident and he certainly has a showmanship about him that may make you think that, but he's very down to earth, level-headed, sweet, family reunion-going young man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really, he goes to the family reunion?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he a big hit at the family reunion?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. (INAUDIBLE) just let the boy get a fork of potatoes, you know?



KING: We are back with our remaining moments. Let's check in on the phone with Wendy Walker, our senior executive producer, who has a comment or two about tonight. Wendy?

WENDY WALKER, SR. EXEC. PRODUCER, LARRY KING LIVE: I just want to say this has never happened in -- what, you have been on the air now, Larry, for 22 years.

KING: Yes.

WALKER: And I have never seen a guest walk off. So this has made Larry King history tonight. The only time I ever remember anything like this happening was one time, Vice President Gore was late and we put your children on for the first segment before he could get there, and that is it. We have been tracking him all day because we had problems with getting him to the studio because of problems with the planes. But this is -- this -- when we finally got him there, we were so excited because we got him there on time, and then this happened. So it's been an interesting day.

KING: Mark it down, Wendy. And we made an offer for tomorrow. So there's still hope.

WALKER: That's right.

KING: Thanks, dear.

Well, you have all participated in history-making television tonight, at least for this program. And I thank the guests that were with us earlier, Carlos Diaz and Shaun Robinson in Los Angeles, both of you thanks very much. And Galina Espinoza and Lola Ogunnaike as well. And on the phone, Mark Geragos and Trent Copeland. And, of course, we thank Dr. Jan Adams for his appearance, brief as it was, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and one of Dr. Adams' attorneys, Alan Tenenbaum. It was one of those nights.

And that's it for tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be back with you again tomorrow night. Standing by to host "AC 360" here at our studios in New York, here is my friend, John King who I don't wish tonight on Mr. King. But life goes on in live television.