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Kidney-donor deaths linked to surgical clips raise issues of alerts, warnings

Posted: June 21, 2012 |   Comments

(CNN) -- When Manuel Reyna developed a deadly kidney disease, his sister, Florinda Gotcher, didn't hesitate to give him one of her kidneys. When she found out they were a match, she cried.

"She was so happy," remembers Gotcher's daughter, Melinda Williams. "She was overwhelmed that she was able to save her brother's life."

Williams said her mother didn't worry about the risks of surgery. Statistically, kidney donor surgery is considered to be very safe: in 2010, the year before Gotcher's surgery, 6,276 people donated a kidney, and none of them died within 30 days of the surgery.

Her laparoscopic surgery went well, but about 30 minutes afterwards in the recovery room, she took a mysterious turn for the worse.

"She just took a deep breath and her eyes got real huge and then she fell back down and started breathing really, really bad," Williams says.

Surgeons at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, rushed Gotcher back into the operating room. Once they opened her up again, they saw something horrible had happened: there was a pool of blood in her abdomen. Gotcher, 41 and the mother of four, had died from a massive and sudden bleed.

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