On March 30, 2021, Dr. Nadine Haddad was excited to test a new service at her Fifth Avenue elective medicine spa near Balboa Park. She’d just been certified to give the “O-Shot.”

Selected court documents in Jaime Herwehe suit.
Selected court documents in Jaime Herwehe suit. (PDF)

But before she could offer clients the clitoral and vaginal injections of their own blood PRP — platelet-rich plasma — she needed practice.

According to court testimony last week, Haddad asked four or five of her own employees at the B Medical Spa and Wellness Center to volunteer as “models” for the controversial shot — which she promised improved sex drive and “oh-my-God orgasms.”

Jaime Herwehe, an esthetician, was one of two employees who agreed to the shot.

Two years later, testifying in downtown Superior Court, Herwehe (pronounced HER-way) described a terrifying ordeal.

With another staffer holding open her vagina by hand and the Syrian-trained physician sometimes using an iPhone to shine a light, an “extremely nervous and scared” Herwehe was injected with a local anesthetic that had expired three years earlier, she said.

Unaware that the liquid lidocaine offered no numbness, Haddad injected PRP into her nerve-rich clitoris, Herwehe told a jury of nine men and three women.

“It was beyond excruciating,” said the 32-year-old mother and former San Diego City College student. “The most excruciating pain in my life.”

She soon passed out on the floor — a possible seizure, a witness said — and has since suffered vaginal numbness.

“After the botched O-Shot procedure, plaintiff was unable to have enjoyable sexual relations with her partner,” her lawyers wrote. “Plaintiff and her boyfriend of almost eight years and the father of her daughter broke off their longtime relationship because of the lack of intimacy and plaintiff’s change in mentality towards sex.”

Alleging medical malpractice, a lawsuit suit filed Sept. 15, 2021, against medical director Haddad and Haddad’s husband, office manager Mark Khashram, also claims that Herwehe didn’t give written consent for the procedure gone awry.

And wasn’t told its risks beforehand.

And according to the complaint filed by San Diego attorneys Josh Gruenberg and Pamela Vallero, Herwehe was fired May 11, 2021, for refusing to sign an O-Shot consent form 42 days after the fact.

No monetary figure is specified, but the legal team that also helped Sandra Maas win a judgment against KUSI-TV seeks a variety of penalties, including “punitive damages in an amount necessary to make an example of, and to punish, defendant, and to deter future similar misconduct.”

Medical battery and retaliation are also alleged, but several of the original claims were dropped.

In the formal answer to the complaint, submitted Nov. 22, 2021, the defendants said in part that Herwehe “had the express knowledge of the risks and hazards set forth in the Complaint, as well as the magnitude of the risks and hazards, and thereafter knowingly and willingly assumed those risks.”

The response also said:

  • That any alleged injuries “were aggravated by the plaintiff’s failure to use reasonable diligence to mitigate them.”
  • That Herwehe’s consent “was both express and implied.”
  • And that “no healthcare provider shall be liable for professional negligence or malpractice for any occurrence or result solely on the basis that the occurrence or result was caused by the natural course of a disease or condition or was the natural or unexpected result of reasonable treatment rendered for the disease or condition.”

Times of San Diego attended trial sessions Monday, Wednesday and Thursday in the fifth-floor Hall of Justice courtroom of Judge Carolyn Caietti — Department 70.

Current and former B Med Spa employees testified, text messages were shown and expert testimony given.

Haddad — who appeared only days before on Fox5 News — and Khashram are represented by Maya Fawcett and Jack Reinholtz of Prindle, Goetz, Barnes & Reinholtz LLP, which has a University City office.

Reinholtz also is defending Haddad and Khashram in a separate lawsuit involving Jessyca De Lara — Herwehe’s older sister — who was B Med Spa’s manager during the same period and alleges wage violations, business fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

(Trial is set for January 2024 in Judge Keri Katz’s court, with Gruenberg representing De Lara.)

In Herwehe’s case, the spa’s co-owners since January 2021 have mainly attempted to throw cold water on Herwehe’s motives and veracity — and deny she gave no prior consent. At one point, they argued a text suggested Herwehe offered a bribe to a colleague in the case.

With lawyers for both sides using sexual terms seldom heard in a court, the defense team Monday challenged expert witness James Tappan, who has 50 years of experience as an obstetrician and gynecologist.

“Bottom line, you’re not an expert in performing an O-Shot,” Reinholtz told San Mateo-based Tappan, being paid more than $15,000 as a witness for Herwehe and appearing virtually on a video screen.

“Happily, yes (not an expert),” the 79-year-old Tappan replied after previously labeling the PRP shot “not a recognized and accepted modality.” He said it was useless to treat sexual dysfunction and that 64 risks are associated with the shot. He also said OB-GYNs dispute the existence of a G-spot, which the O-shot also promises to enhance.

Haddad’s certificate of completing O-Shot training with inventor Dr. Charles Runels, Tappan said, is a “piece of paper not recognized by any national body.” (Runels and the O-Shot are roundly mocked by other OB-GYNs.)

Sensational Testimony

Ex-boyfriend Brandon Smith — an SDG&E high-voltage lineman who used to live with Herwehe — provided some of the most searing (and explicit) testimony.

Under questioning by Vallero, he described their sex life, which he said was “great” before the March 2021 procedure. But after her O-Shot, the boyfriend since 2014 said he couldn’t touch her without her being uncomfortable.

“She was so sensitive, she wouldn’t want me to touch her anywhere,” Smith said. She did a “whole 180” from her previous self, showed “zero patience,” becoming a “completely different person.” Their relationship “constantly turned into a fight, an argument.”

Vallero asked Smith if he blamed the O-Shot for the end of their relationship.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “That whole process … takes a toll” and “snowballed since the start of it.”

Herwewe dabbed her eyes as Smith said he’d made clear he never wanted to wed but planned to have a child, which they did in 2019.

Asked if he’d like to get back together, Smith said: “I’d love to if we could work this stuff out. … if we could get back to where we were.”

But Herwehe didn’t want to, he said.

At the next jury break, in the courtroom hallway, Smith put his arms around Herwehe.

‘Improves Sex Drive’

Also on the witness stand Monday was Haddad, who said she told potential volunteers that the O-Shot “improves blood supply to that area (and) overall it improves sex drive and sensitivity.”

She said spa manager De Lara reported that Herwehe was “fine” with having the procedure — “and I thought I could trust her.”

“I asked consent and she said she signed and was ready.” Haddad repeated: “I was told it was signed…. I hadn’t seen it.”

Herwehe attorney Gruenberg displayed a printout from the Medical Board of California showing that Haddad’s medical license had expired the previous Friday and was now “delinquent.”

Haddad said she had been “preoccupied with this case and didn’t get to it.” (By late Tuesday, the license was “renewed and current” with an expiration date of March 31, 2025.)

Haddad acknowledged having used expired lidocaine on both her subjects, first on employee volunteer Jessica Nieto, who didn’t proceed to the actual O-Shot because “it was so painful … she asked me to stop.”

On Wednesday, the defense called Andrea Muñoz, a physician’s assistant who works at Sharp Rees-Stealy but also part time at B Med Spa.

Muñoz said that after discussing contraceptive options with Herwehe, she inserted an IUD in July 2021 — four months after the O-Shot. She said Herwehe mentioned no pain, sensitivity or numbness.

“No abnormalities in the vagina. … No abnormal findings,” she testified.

Muñoz said she hadn’t heard of Herwehe’s O-Shot “until yesterday,” having “learned of it in the past 24 hours through counsel.”

Herwehe, an El Cajon native who graduated from Grossmont High School in 2009 (two years after her sister), took the stand next and began describing work-related complaints.

She said everyone was promised pay raises after Haddad and Khashram took over. But it “never happened.” She said Khashram pressed her to expand her volunteer social media postings for the business, especially Instagram.

Soon she was doing it “all the time,” including her free hours, and it became exhausting.

“It wasn’t fun anymore,” she said. And worse — despite a marketing company posting — “we weren’t getting paid for it.”

‘Good to Go’

On the day of the O-Shot, Herwehe said colleague Evelyn Hernandez-Cardenas, who had just assisted with Nieto’s aborted procedure, “looked very nervous, very uncomfortable.”

But the doctor was still excited, telling how “it was the greatest treatment ever,” Herwehe testified.

Despite an “excruciating” lidocaine shot to the clitoris, Haddad told Herwehe: “If you are past lidocaine, you should be good to go.”

Haddad said she’d let the area get numb and then inject PRP into the G-spot of the lying down Herwehe. Haddad used an iPhone flashlight to find the spot and said: “I thought you had a kid,” Herwehe told the court.

Haddad was heard saying the process was successful.

“I couldn’t even speak — it hurt so bad,” Herwehe recalled, saying co-worker Cardenas was out of breath, shaking and crying.

When helped to her feet, Herwehe felt as if she would pass out. Waking up later, as if after a long sleep, Herwehe said Haddad told her: “You passed out 30 seconds, tops.”

Cardenas looked like she’d seen a ghost, Herwehe said. (Later that evening, the aide told Herwehe she had a “two-minute seizure.”)

Then Haddad noted the 2018 expiration date of the lidocaine and slapped her head, said Herwehe, licensed to give various skin and face treatments.

When Herwehe later texted Haddad about whether she needed to see a doctor, Haddad said no, suggesting she didn’t have enough fluids at the time.

On her drive home, starting to feel dizzy, “I was very paranoid,” Herwehe said. “Every injection site was red, puffy and inflamed.”

When Cardenas took the stand, she recalled Herwehe falling to the floor and having some kind of convulsion or seizure.

“She kept grabbing at her face,” Cardenas testified. “I panicked and went down to help Dr. Haddad, trying to move her arms away from her. … I was scared. I was very much in shock.”

Asked about the earlier procedure on colleague Nieto, Cardenas said Nieto screamed and had “a lot of blood coming right out of her vaginal area. It wasn’t like splashing out, but there was blood.”

Cardenas said Haddad told Nieto: “Don’t tell Jaime how much pain you were in because she wouldn’t want to go through with this.”

On the stand Thursday was B Med Spa assistant manager Nieto, promoted from front-desk worker.

Attorney Vallero asked Nieto if written consent were obtained before her procedure.

“Well, it was a verbal consent,” not written, she said.

Nieto confirmed she had felt a high level of pain, but Haddad stopped after Nieto called for a halt. She said her vagina bled, “but it wasn’t excessive.”

Was she asked to sign a consent form after the procedure?

“Yes,” Nieto said. She signed May 11, 2021 — the day Herwehe balked and was fired.

Testimony resumes Monday, with closing arguments expected Tuesday or Wednesday.